Gretzky the Ranger

On July 21, 1996, “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky signed a two year deal with the New York Rangers as a free agent at the age of 35.

Ranger’s manager Neil Smith decided to bring Gretzky to New York as part of a rebuilding process for the team after two years of suffering from early elimination in the playoffs. Even though they beat the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup in the 1993-94 season, the next two seasons was a disappointment.

The 1994-95 season brought the Rangers to the playoffs. The Rangers took the Quebec Nordiques down in six games. But round two was not in their favor. The Rangers fell to the Philadelphia Flyers in four games. The 1995-96 season was not any better for the Rangers. Round one was a six game victory against the Montreal Canadiens. Round two was a five game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Gretzky was reunited with Mark Messier who was a teammate for nine years with the Edmonton Oilers. They won four championship rings together. The duo would only be together for one season because Messier became a free agent in 1997 and signed with the Canucks.

Gretzky, known as “The Great One.” retired after three seasons with the Rangers (1998-99) which was by far his worst season as a professional hockey player. Voters did not hesitate to have him included in the Hockey hall of Fame in 1999. He won all four of his rings with the Oilers and had two other visits to the finals, one with the Oilers and one with the Los Angeles Kings. His number, 99, has been retired by all of hockey because he broke every scoring record possible.

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