Issue Number 39: Leadership and The Great One

Wayne Douglas Gretzky was born on January 26, 1961 in Brantford, Ontario. His father, Walter, taught Wayne and his brothers and friends to skate on a hockey rink he named the “Wally Coliseum,” which he constructed in his back yard. Wayne began skating when was less than three years old, and by the time he was six he was playing on a team of ten-year-olds.

He joined the Indianapolis Racers at the age of 17. After retiring from hockey twenty years later, Wayne became Executive Director of the Canadian national men’s hockey team and part owner, and eventually head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.

His nickname was simply “The Great One.” He is generally considered to be the greatest hockey player of all time. Upon his retirement he held forty regular-season records, fifteen playoff records, and six all-star records. He is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season, which he did an amazing four times. His jersey number, 99, has been retired by all teams in the National Hockey League.

At six feet and 185 pounds, he was not bigger, faster, or stronger than his opponents, but he had something extra. He had the ability, perhaps to a greater extent than other hockey players, to anticipate. When asked to explain the difference between a good hockey player and a great one, he said: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

As a leader, you may decide to keep doing what you have been doing – to play where the puck is. It is a safe and hallowed tradition, and, metaphorically, you will be a good hockey player, but you won’t be a Great One.

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