I used to watch him at Northlands from the cheap seats. It was actually a great way to watch 99, as you could see the things he valued (open patches of ice, anticipating the opposition, finding open lanes) and how hard it was to defend him. He had a sixth sense with Kurri, but the truth is if a player found himself on the ice with 99 and had any kind of brain at all the puck would come to him in high percentage scoring areas. When you see his goals as an Oiler now they look flukey, somehow less valuable than a goal today because of lesser goaltending and smaller goalie equipment. The truth is Gretzky rarely shot the puck when the goalie was ready, preferring to make a small move to the left or right to change the angle for a better chance.
They say hitting is all about timing and pitching is about changing speeds to upset that timing. Wayne Gretzky was all about upsetting timing, running counter plays to areas that were occupied by teammates at the last second but had not been an area of concern seconds before and generally making high percentage plays others would never think of trying.
Wayne Gretzky was an amazing hockey player. For a long time now his playing career has given him opportunities in the coaching and management end of the game that were perhaps undeserved. This season he appears to be maturing as a coach, or he is delegating properly, or he has so much talent he cannot fail. The Coyotes have been for real since the gift of goaltending from Anaheim Burke and they are not a team to be taken lightly.