Exploring the path of Wayne Gretzky’s teams offers a unique glimpse into how this legendary player left an indelible mark on the world of hockey. As time passes and it gets further from his playing days people are still fascinated in the career of The Great One.
What teams did Wayne Gretzky play for? Wayne Gretzky played for four teams in the NHL: Edmonton Oilers (1978-1988), Los Angeles Kings (1988-1996), St. Louis Blues (1996) and the New York Rangers (1996-99). He also played professionally in the WHA for one season with the Indianapolis Racers (1978-79).
Wayne Gretzky’s NHL Teams
In his NHL career Wayne Gretzky played for four teams over 19 seasons. Wayne Gretzky’s Teams were:
1) Edmonton Oilers (1978-1988)
The Edmonton Oilers were Gretzky’s first stop in the NHL.Embed from Getty Images
It is important to note that Gretzky was not part of the NHL draft not drafted by the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, he was sold/traded to the Oilers when they were part of the WHA in 1978 from the Indianapolis Racers.
The WHA would fold in 1978 with a handful of teams being taken into the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers one of them. The Edmonton Oilers got to protect two players on the roster as they entered the NHL – obviously, Gretzky was one of them.
Edmonton would be where he would have his greatest success as a player in all areas: stats (goals scored, assists, pts etc.) 4 Stanley Cups, international results, and personal awards.
Not only did Gretzky end up with all the personal accolades, he would really define a brand of offensive hockey that the NHL would adopt for the better part of a decade.
Gretzky pushed the league to a whole new level of skill and offensive prowess as he shattered previous records.
Regular Season Stats from Edmonton
Notable Achievements with the Edmonton Oilers
- 4 Stanley Cups
- 8 Hart Trophy
- 7 Art Ross Trophy
- 2 Conn Smythe Trophy
- Most Goals in a season: 92
- Most Assists in a season: 163
- Most Points in a season: 215
- All-time assist record
2) Los Angeles Kings (1988-1996)
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In 1988 the unthinkable happened for hockey fans: Wayne Gretzky got traded. The rumours started before Gretzky won his fourth Stanley Cup in 1988, however he was mostly sheltered from those rumours by his Dad, Walter Gretzky, until the Stanley Cup final was over.
At first Gretzky did not want anything to do with being traded, but after conversations with those closest to him and Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall he agreed to be traded to the division rival.
So on August 9, 1988, along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski, Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Martin Gelinas, Jimmy Carson, 1st round draft picks in 1989, 1991, and 1993 and $15 million dollars in cash. Edmonton and Canada lost their biggest star!
Gretzky went onto have a decent amount of success on the ice in Los Angeles Kings. He would win one more Hart trophy as most valuable player and three more Art Ross Trophies as the leagues top scorer.
He would even lead the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup finals appearance but would end up losing to Montreal in 1993.
Wayne Gretzky’s impact off of the ice because of Los Angeles years
Where Gretzky would have his biggest impact was off the ice. He opened up hockey to a whole new population of people. Gretzky would not only draw millions of eyeballs to the television sets in the U.S. but the Kings became the hot ticket in town and would attract a number of A list celebrities.Embed from Getty Images
Gretzky’s trade to L.A. and his being an ambassador for hockey is also credited as the point that allowed the NHL to eventually expand to a number of new cities in the southern U.S.
Since Gretzky’s trade the NHL has expanded to Anaheim and San Jose in California as well as Las Vegas, Arizona, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Florida and has placed teams in Dallas and Carolina.
This likely would not have happened if Gretzky had not gone to LA!
The fruit and impact of the trade is now being felt at the player development level. Kids who were born in California, Texas, Arizona, Texas and other southern states are now being drafted into the NHL. Auston Matthews from Arizona was the first overall draft pick and a superstar.
The impact of Gretzky’s time in LA cannot be understated.
Los Angeles Kings Regular Season Stats
- 1 Hart Trophy
- 3 Art Ross Trophies
- All-time goal record
- All-time point record
3) St. Louis Blues (1996)
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The best answer to any trivia question is: Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif, and Roman Vopat. The question to that answer is: “Who did the St. Louis Blues trade to the Los Angeles Kings to acquire Wayne Gretzky in 1996?”
You may have never heard of these players – don’t worry you are not alone. Shouldn’t there be someone more noteworthy in a trade for the greatest player of all-time? Well, maybe. However, the thing about this trade is that St. Louis made a trade deadline acquisition for Gretzky.
Los Angeles was not going to make the playoffs and the Kings were looking at a rebuild of the team in the next several years – something Gretzky did not want to be a part of.
The Blues acquired him as part of their own playoff push, and they did qualify for the playoffs, but they were not an elite team at the time. They had an older team made up of veterans like Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and Dale Hawerchuk (with the exception of a very young Chris Pronger).
Gretzky would only play 18 regular season games with the Blues, and 13 games in the playoffs before losing in the second round to Detroit. He did lead the team in scoring in the playoffs.
St. Louis made an attempt to sign him to a 3-year 15 million contract, but rejected it and opted to sign elsewhere.
Regular season stats:
) New York Rangers (1996-1999)
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Gretzky’s final stop in his career would take him to Manhattan and to the New York Rangers.
There were a number of different rumours about where Wayne would end up including the Detroit Red Wings and his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs (Wayne grew up in Brantford, about 60 miles/100km west of Toronto).
However, in the end, the allure of reuniting with his best friend Mark Messier was too much. He signed a 2-year contract for $10 million at the age of 35 with the Rangers (and signing for one more year with the franchise after that).
The first season with Gretzky went well for the Rangers as they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to Philadelphia. However, that would mark the last playoff appearance for Wayne Gretzky.
The Rangers became a middling team over the next two years, and never managed to qualify for the playoffs. Gretzky’s personal stats remained decent, but he was clearly on a mediocre team.
Gretzky decided to retire at the end of the 1998-99 season. He thought it would be fitting to retire in a year that ended in 99. I think he was right.
New York Rangers Regular Season Stats
Wayne Gretzky Regular Season Career Stats
When someone asks you ‘what teams did Wayne Gretzky play for’, now you know! The most exciting time in his career was undoubtably his time in Edmonton were he won his Stanley Cups and sent countless records. However, his move to the US was probably the most influential because of all the growth that happened because of it.