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Hockey School
 
the professor Gretzky’s office

What is it?: Wayne Gretzky, the league’s all-time leading scorer, was dangerous on any piece if ice, but his favorite section was right behind the opposition’s net. The more success he had back there, the more people noticed. Eventually, that region of the rink became known as Gretzky's Office.

graphic
AP
New York Rangers center Wayne Gretzky, right, reacts to a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the 1997 season.
What did he do back there?: He would park and wait for a teammate to shake his defender. This was especially effective on the power play. He was good at it, simply because most defensemen wouldn’t dare leave their post to pinch down and attack him, knowing they could fall victim to a classic Gretzky deke. More times than not, they would leave him alone, allowing him plenty of time to strategize. He would also use the net as a screen to hide the puck from the opposition.

Was he the only one?: There weren’t too many other superstars that emulated Gretzky’s positioning at the time. Many stars carved out their own piece of ice back then. Mario Lemieux, for instance, called the edge of the left faceoff circle his home.

How about now?: There are many players who grew up watching Gretzky who take advantage of his office as often as possible. Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier is one. In two crucial instances in the final, Lecavalier has used the office. In Game 2, he passed the puck off the net to himself, leading to a Ruslan Fedotenko goal. In Game 3, his centering pass from the office just missed a breaking Fredrik Modin. Instead of a Lightning scoring chance, Calgary’s Shean Donovan took it the other way for a 2-on-1 goal.

Did you know?: On April 18, 1999, when the Rangers played the Penguins in Gretzky's final game, New York painted the No. 99 behind each net to honor the player who held or shared 61 records at the time of retirement.

- Compiled by Tim Sullivan

 
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