Happy Birthday Great One!

wayne-gretzky-edmonton-oilersToday is a national holiday in the Earp household. Today is Wayne Gretzky’s birthday.

Gretzky is my idol. His was the first hockey jersey I ever owned – my parents bought it for me on a trip to Canada – I own a hockey stick signed by him, and he is my favorite hockey player of all time. Bar none. Gretzky also happens to be a very decent human being.

Hockey fans on the (USC) University Park Campus got a double treat Tuesday. Not only was the Stanley Cup on display in front of Tommy Trojan, but one of the legendary players whose name is on the hockey trophy stopped by for a visit.

Wayne Gretzky, “The Great One” whose legendary career included eight seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and four Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers, happened to be on campus while the cup was on display in connection with the National Hockey League All-Star Game, being played Sunday at Staples Center. Gretzky stopped for a moment to look for his name and visit with Athletic Director Lynn Swann.

While he would deny it, Gretzky single-handedly popularized hockey in California and the southern states. There are three franchises in California now – Los Angeles, San Jose, and Anaheim – a team in Phoenix, one in Dallas, two in Florida, and next year will see the debut of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Happy birthday, Gretz; the rink isn’t the same without you.

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