Gretzky skates again for Oilers in outdoor alumni game


Wayne Gretzky, the all-time National Hockey League scoring leader, returned to the ice in an Edmonton Oilers jersey at age 55 for an outdoor alumni game against Winnipeg.

The Canadian legend was among a host of retired standouts who took the ice for the Oilers and Winnipeg Jets in an exhibition game ahead of Sunday’s NHL Heritage Classic between the current editions of the Jets and Oilers at the home stadium of the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The Jets won 6-5 as Winnipeg’s Teemu Selanne, the 46-year-old Finnish Flash who ended his career in 2014, scored on a penalty shot against Edmonton’s Curtis Joseph with three seconds remaining. Selanne had two goals and three assists.

“What a great experience,” Gretzky said. “We had a wonderful day, just enjoyed playing the game.”

Gretzky, who retired in 1999 with records of 894 goals and 1,963 assists, led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups before being traded to Los Angeles in 1988. He later played for the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.

But he lamented not playing better, complaining, “I stink. I’m really bad,” and shaking his head as he watched former teammate Mark Messier score twice.

“I was, like, ‘Oh my God, (Messier) can still play. Nobody’s thinking that about Wayne Gretzky,'” he said.

“I don’t play hockey any more. I love when I do go out there. But I’m 56 in two months and that might have been my last game. It’s hard now. It’s just tough to tie up your laces.”

Gretzky had said such things before but suited up for the Oilers alumni in 2003 at Edmonton ahead of the first Heritage Classic outdoor game, helping the retired Edmonton stars defeat a similar Montreal squad 2-0 on the eve of the NHL’s first outdoor contest.

“I didn’t have any expectations and I didn’t tell anybody that I was going to go out there and be the Wayne Gretzky of the ’80s,” Gretzky said of his Winnipeg effort.

“There’s only one NHL and when I retired from there, that was it. I don’t have the same excitement to go play pick-up hockey with the buddies.”

© 2016 AFP

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