In the late 70s, it was becoming evident that Wayne Gretzky was a talent like no other. Undoubtedly, he would become a superstar, but it took him longer than he wanted to reach the WHA.
In the 1977-78 season, he scored 182 points with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OMJHL – as a 16/17-year-old. Gretzky wanted to play in the NHL, but he wasn’t eligible to be drafted by an NHL team for four more years.
The WHA had different rules, and Gretzky signed a 7-year contract with the Indianapolis Racers. When the team got in financial trouble, they sold his contract to the Edmonton Oilers, and when he joined them, he wasn’t even 18.
Gretzky scored 104 points in 72 games in his first season with the Oilers. And for some time, he played with the Oilers and in the WHA. At the same time, he was in high school.
”I went to high school in Edmonton, and the principal doesn’t know who I am. Now Edmonton travels more than other teams, so I’m gone on the roads for five to seven days,” he said on The SmartLess Podcast with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes.
”The principal calls me in, in like January, and he said: ’Young man, you’re going to be a nothing. You’re going to be a nobody. I should kick you out.’ And I said to him,’ Look, give me until January 26 because then, I turn 18. And if I’m still messing up, you can call me in and kick me out of the school.”
”I actually used to pick up a teammate’s daughter; she was in my classes, and we were the same age. So we’re driving to school, listening to music in the car, and I’m just really excited. She goes, ’You’re pretty happy,’ and I said, ’Yeah, I’m quitting school and I’m telling that principal I’m done.”
”I walked into the principal’s office and said, ’You know what? I just want to thank you for not kicking me out of school. I quit.”
”And that was it. I walked out, but I lived up to what my dad wanted.”