Wayne Gretzky is regarded as the best hockey player ever for good reason. His NHL career began when he joined the Edmonton Oilers in 1979. He picked up the Hart Trophy for the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in his first season. The titles didn’t stop there, though.
Wayne Gretzky won four Stanley Cups during his illustrious and legendary career. His first title was in the 1983-84 season, and his last came in the 1987-88 season. Each title was won with the Edmonton Oilers – the club where Gretzsky would cement his name as the greatest hockey player of all time.
Let’s take a look at each of The Great One’s four Stanley Cup wins and analyze them one by one. Gretzky is the leading goal scorer, assists provider, and point scorer in the history of the league and is regarded as one of the 20th century’s most iconic athletes.
Who Did the Oilers Beat For Their First Title, 1983-84?
The Edmonton Oilers didn’t join the NHL until 1979 and were thus the new kids on the block. This was their fifth season in the league but their second Stanley Cup final.
In 1982-83, the Oilers were defeated by the high-flying New York Islanders, who had won 4 Stanley Cups in a row.
The Islanders dynasty crumbled when they faced Gretzky’s Oilers the next year, however, as they won the series 4-1 for their first-ever Stanley Cup title.
The Great One started off the series slowly but grew into them as time went on – delivering a stand-out performance in game five with an assist and two goals. His role in this game turned the tide in the NHL landscape and landed the Stanley Cup.
Who Did the Oilers Beat For Their Second Title, 1984-85?
The Oilers retained their title the following year by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers.
Proving they were the cream of the NHL crop, they once again won the series 4-1, despite losing the first game. Coach Glen Sather was so enraged by this defeat that he destroyed the tape of the game.
Once again, Gretzky’s performances were heralded by pundits and fans, and he was awarded another MVP Trophy as a result of his ever-growing influence.
Who Did the Oilers Beat For Their Third Title, 1986-87?
The Oilers missed out on the 1985-86 title but won it back the following year by defeating the Flyers once again.
Fueled by the crushing defeat at the hands of the biggest rivals, the Calgary Flames, Gretzky’s Oilers took back their crown in a pulsating series.
The Great One was unable to steal the show this time but did pick up this third Stanley Cup – an outstanding achievement.
Who Did the Oilers Beat For TheirFourth and Final Title, 1987-88
The Edmonton Oilers would pick up their fourth Stanley Cup, Gretzky’s last, in 1987-88. It marked their fifth final appearance in six years, which is definitely dynasty status, and faced the Boston Bruins.
Unlike other series, this run of games was hardly close as the Oilers thumped the Bruins 4-0 overall. It was, however, notable for when the lights at the Boston Garden arena went out in game four.
The power outage caused the game to be replayed in Canada, where the Oilers clinched victory before securing the title.
Gretzky’s creative play was on full display this season as he registered a whopping 31 assists in just 18 games. He was once again named the MVP in the playoffs.
With the conclusion of the 1987-88 season, The Great One’s stranglehold on the Stanley Cup came to an end.
You need to skate to wherethe puck will be, not where it has been.~Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky’s record-shattering career resulted in four Stanley Cups and a cemented status as the NHL’s greatest ever player.
He won four Stanley Cups in a near-20 year career in the NHL. Additionally, he leads the way in goals, assists, and overall points scored in National Hockey League history.
He never won the Stanley Cup after leaving the Oilers but did smash all the records after his shock departure. He remains the benchmark for NHL players to this day – a status that is unlikely to ever change.
Where Did Wayne Gretzky Play After Leaving the Edmonton Oilers?
The Great One left the Oilers in August 1988 in a shock move to the Los Angeles Kings. The deal was so controversial and was met with so much scorn that there were legitimate calls for the Canadian government to block it.
These efforts proved futile, though, and Gretzky joined the Kings in August 1988. Ironically, he played an integral role in defeating his former Oilers, though the Kings were unable to win the Stanley Cup that year.
He left the Los Angeles Kings in 1996. Tenures with the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers were unable to deliver a fifth Stanley Cup, and Gretzky retired in April 1999. He began a coaching career at the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005, stepping down four years later.
Why Was Wayne Gretzky So Good?
Blessed with a huge amount of natural talent and ability, Gretzky’s genius came from his smart style of play. He was an unimposing athlete who was far from the strongest player but made up for these deficiencies with a world-class passing ability and an unrivaled ability to read the game.
When he first came on to the scene, he was derided by pundits for being too skinny and short to have an impact on the highly-physical and combative nature of professional ice hockey. However, he soon proved people wrong by delivering world-class performances.
He was also a student of the game and would spend hours watching tape, analyzing opposition, and being coached on the ice to develop and sharpen his already-predatory hockey instincts.
The Great One proved that size and strength are not what makes a top NHL player.