Wayne Gretzky is the GOAT of hockey, and everyone knows it. He broke record after record during his years in the league, and to this day, he still holds close to 60 of them. Gretzky helped grow the sport, and you couldn’t ask for a better ambassador for hockey than The Great One.
Gretzky being injury-free and healthy was key to the NHL and his teams. That’s why Gretzky played with some of the best enforcers in league history because he always had someone close to him watching his back.
In Edmonton, Gretzky absolutely adored playing with Dave Semenko because of how great of a protector he was. Later in his career, Marty McSorley was another of Gretzky’s beloved teammates. Those guys weren’t the best when it came to scoring goals or assists, but they kept Gretzky safe.
But, of course, Gretzky took some hits during his years in the league. When The Great One guessed the CONAN talk show on TBS almost ten years ago, Gretzky was asked whether there was an unwritten rule in the league that you weren’t allowed to hit Gretzky.
”No, it’s not true,” Gretzky said.
”In the sense that I would come home some games and I remember getting up the next day, and Janet is saying to me, ’Wow, don’t go to practice today.’ And I said, ’No, we practice every day, I gotta go.’ I got hit, but I didn’t get hit as much as much as people probably wanted me to get hit, especially on the opposing teams.”
Gretzky, however, got warned about hits from other players in his last year of playing.
”But listen, I knew it was time to retire when I was playing my last year. People I was playing against, before they would hit me they would scream my name and say, ’Hey, heads up’ or, ’Wayne, get out of the way. Here we are!’ I remember thinking like, hey, something’s not right about this.”
Conan then joked about how nobody in the league wanted to be the guy that actually killed Gretzky, and he agreed.
”Hockey players have so much respect for each other, and it’s such a physical game.”