Speaker – Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky, nicknamed “The Great One,” is widely considered to be the greatest hockey player of all-time. Following his successful career on the ice, Gretzky has stayed close to the game he loves. He is the lead studio analyst for TNT’s hockey broadcasts, was Head Coach and EVP of the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005 to 2009, named the Vice Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers from 2016-2021 and was the official ambassador for the NHL’s Centennial Celebration in 2017.
Gretzky retired as a player on April 16, 1999, after 20 seasons in which he dominated the National Hockey League unlike any player in history. Gretzky helped win four Stanley Cup Championships and three Canada Cup tournament titles during his illustrious career. He became the NHL’s all-time leading goal, assist, and point producer for both regular season and playoffs. Gretzky won 10 Art Ross Trophies as the NHL’s leading scorer, nine Hart Trophies as the League’s MVP, and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP. He earned five Lady Byng Trophies as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player and made 18 consecutive All-Star Game appearances, securing three All-Star MVP Awards. Gretzky is an eight-time First All-Star Team member and seven-time Second All-Star Team member. He holds virtually every offensive record in the NHL and his tireless support of the game has contributed significantly to the popularity it enjoys today.
Upon his retirement, Gretzky held or shared 61 NHL records. Following his final game, the NHL bestowed on Gretzky the unique distinction of being the only player in the history of the NHL to have his jersey number retired by all member clubs. “No. 99” was formally retired at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto and will never again be worn by an NHL player.
On November 22, 1999, seven months after his retirement, Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada, becoming the tenth and final player in Hockey Hall of Fame history to have the mandatory three-year waiting period for enshrinement waived by the Hall’s board of directors.
In 2002, Gretzky served in a managerial role with Team Canada as the Executive Director of Team Canada’s Olympic Hockey Team. Under Gretzky’s leadership, Team Canada persevered to win the Gold Medal. Gretzky served in the same capacity with Team Canada for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
The Wayne Gretzky Foundation is dedicated to helping disadvantaged youngsters throughout North America participate in hockey. Gretzky also gives his time to countless other charitable endeavors. He serves as Honorary Chairman of Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities in Canada, and is an Athlete Ambassador and Honorary Member of the Board of Trustees of Right to Play, an athlete driven humanitarian organization that uses sports to enhance child development in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world. Gretzky also is a participant in “Hands That Shape Humanity”, a project for the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre.
Moderator – Christine Simpson
Boasting almost 25 years of broadcast expertise and a lifetime of hockey knowledge, Christine Simpson has been the face of Sportsnet features and event coverage since the network’s inception in 1998. Simpson currently works as a reporter for the NHL on Sportsnet and her interviews appear on Hockey Night in Canada and Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey. On her segment, The Big Picture with Chris Simpson, she showcases the biggest personalities in the game in her one-on-one interviews.
Growing up in London, ON her love of hockey began early on in arenas watching her brothers Craig and Dave play. While they found success in the NHL, Simpson began her own career in hockey after graduating from Western University. She divided her time between her position as Marketing Manager with the Hockey Hall of Fame and her role as the first in-arena host for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In addition to her work at Sportsnet Simpson has also worked south of the border as a rinkside reporter for ABC, ESPN, Versus, and she worked New Jersey Devils broadcasts on MSG Network in 2010. She was the host of Captains on the NHL Network in 2008. Simpson was also part of an historic first when Sportsnet compiled an all-female crew to broadcast an NHL game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames on International Women’s Day March 8, 2020.
When she’s not in front of the camera, Simpson is an active member on the Conn Smythe Sports Celebrities Dinner committee in support of Easter Seals and a WISE (Women in Sports & Events) Toronto Board Member.