Wayne Gretzky: Pipe Cleaner

By the time Wayne Gretzky was six years old he was already skating with 10-year-olds. At the tender age of 11, he scored 378 goals (yes 378) in 69 games. Soon thereafter he was signing autographs and screening phone calls from national magazines.

Despite being selected Rookie of the Year with the World Hockey Association, scouts in the National Hockey League (NHL) had doubts. "Too small, too slow," some scribbled in their notes. "Won't survive the rough play," was aonther sage prediction. In fact, because he was only five feet eleven inches and 170 pounds, a wag once cracked that "he could wear a fur coat on Halloween -- and go out disguised as a pipe cleaner."

[Gretzky proved the critics wrong in dramatic fashion, racking up more than 60 NHL records, including single season records for most points (212), goals (92), and assists (163).]

[Many fans showed up at Gretzky's childhood games with stopwatches -- to see how long Gretzky would hold the puck. Former Kings head coach Parker MacDonald once said "trying to stop Wayne is like throwing a blanket over a ghost."]

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