I Was a Gretzky Groupie…Happy 50th, Wayne!

As a girl growing up with a younger brother in Southern Ontario (and two young male friends that lived nearby who we played with), I definitely wasn’t a “girly-girl.”  I rode bikes, played cops and robbers, rolled oil barrels across the back yard with my feet, kicked a soccer ball around, threw (and caught) baseballs, and played floor hockey.  I also had a pretty respectable collection of hockey cards, which I would “pitch” at school to win more.  My favourite hockey players when I was a kid were Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson (because they were “cute”…maybe I was a little bit girly)…my team was the Boston Bruins!  My brother was a Montreal Canadians fan (poor, misguided soul).  I would have played league hockey if I’d been able to skate and my parents could have afforded the equipment!

By the time I was a teenager, my love of hockey had cooled somewhat.  But then Wayne Gretzky came along!  Before he owned the Los Angeles Kings, he was part owner of the Belleville Bulls, our local Junior B hockey team.  And we just happened to live right across the road from the other co-owner!  Of course, Wayne would come over to socialize with his business partner, and I would be happy to get any glimpse I could of my teenage crush (even if it required binoculars to see down the incredibly long driveway…can you say stalker?)!  He was six months older than I was…I planned to marry him!

The eighteen-year-old me...probably daydreaming about Wayne...

One day, I found out that Wayne would be signing autographs at the Quinte Sports Centre, the arena where the Bulls played.  I borrowed my mom’s Pentax camera which was equipped with a zoom lens (she was a professional photographer) and got her to drive me into town.  I took my place in the long lineup, rehearsing what I would say to my future husband as I shot picture after picture of him.

"Man, it's hot in here..."

Finally, there were only two people between me and my skate boy…that’s when his handler announced to the unfortunate people still in the lineup that there wouldn’t be any more autographs signed that day.

"Really? I have to go now? There's still a lot of really cute girls in this line!"

It took me a while to get over Wayne…five years later, I married a radio guy who was an excellent golfer but didn’t play hockey!  Fifteen years after that, my husband and I were separated, but by then, Wayne had married that Janet girl…wonder what he saw in her? 

Happy 50th, Wayne!

*Sorry for the photo quality…these are pictures of pictures!


Filed under memories, satire, self-discovery

47 responses to “I Was a Gretzky Groupie…Happy 50th, Wayne!

  1. planejaner

    I, too, loved the man…
    and, I never even watched hockey!
    fun post–and blessings

  2. Too funny Wendy! I had a big crush on Donnie Osmund way back when and dreamed of marrying him someday. Never got close enough for a picture.

    When we got a new student at junior high that looked like Donnie my thoughts turned to him realizing that he was much closer but I didn’t have any better chance with him than Donnie. Oh well, I love how my life turned out.

  3. I’m just realizing now how many gajillion times I’ve seen those two pictures in my life, and never had a freaking clue who it was.

  4. great story showing flow in life – keep talking

  5. Okay, so here’s my claim to fame. Or…maybe it’s not a claim to fame, but my Boston Bruins link. Perhaps you remember Terry O’Reilly? He played for a number of years, and then coached. Yup…he’s my second cousin…we spent time at his (then) cottage in the…uh…Muskokas perhaps? Either way, his family (siblings, etc.) has about three cottages up that way and we stayed at them a couple of times. I think he was at my parents’ wedding too. Yup. I used to like hockey too, but now I’m a baaaaad Canadian.

    Your Gretzky crush is very similar to the many crushes to be had on Sidney Crosby I would guess.

    Oh, and flyinggma, I was fortunate to see Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in Toronto. We had fantastic seats…somewhere around the fourth row, and when Donny was suspended above the audience, I could look right up his coat of many colours to see…well…probably some pants or something.

    • That’s cool, Suzanne…I recognize O’Reilly’s name (but couldn’t pick him out of a lineup – too young!). Loved your story about peering up Donnie’s coat of many colours! I haven’t watched hockey for a very long time… Wendy

    • How funny about looking under his coat of many colors. I would have fainted for sure earlier in my life to be that close to Donnie.

  6. Glad you got to see your crush up close and personal! I’ve never heard of him, so thanks for the education too!
    Sunshine xx

  7. Enjoyed this one although I no nothing of hockey and haven’t heard of the guy! Love that pic of you @ 18 🙂 You guys would have been good together 🙂

    Hugs, H.

  8. That should read *know* nothing 😛

  9. Great story, Wendy. So glad to be back to reading – again.

  10. Great post, Wendy, although I honestly can’t remember why we guys thought it was cool to part our hair right down the middle, because it wasn’t cool. At all.

  11. I can’t believe they cut off the line. How different life could have been!

  12. Hockey in Canada is like football in Green Bay. Nuts!!

  13. duke1959

    I saw them both play in the prime of their careers and to me Bobby Orr was the best player I have ever seen. Orr changed the way the game was played. It was sad that his career was cut short by injury.

  14. So you never got his autograph? That’s sad. And you’re wishing him happy birthday anyway–such undying adoration!

  15. I’m a huge hockey fan and love this post! Of course, I will always put Mario Lemieux at the top of the list. Cool pics of a neat moment. I remember being in a line like that with Jaromir Jagr and Kevin Stevens in the early 90s. Nice story!

  16. I saw Hulk Hogan naked but did not get a picture. Its a long story and he did not play hockey.
    When I sold television sponsorships for the St Louis blues–I realized just how good looking hockey players were….your right who cares about how they play at least on the ice ). I also learned hockey on television can be tedious.
    Next I went I went to every hockey game my Godson played in and ate humble pie years later when I became the soccer mom…I swore I would never be when I watched my Godson play Hockey.

    Loved the pictures.

    • That Hulk Hogan story sounds like a blog post, Katybeth…

      Selling TV sponsorships for the Blues sounds like a fun thing to do…probably easier when they’re winning!

      Glad you enjoyed it!


  17. Ah, the man will never know what he missed…

  18. I can’t stop laughing at Kaylee’s comment. I wonder who she actually DID think Wayne was!

    When I was 18, I had the most unstoppable crush on U2’s Bono–(maybe I still do?)–and that’s something my husband still teases me about today. He has a theory that Bono and Robin Williams are the same guy. Here’s what he cited as proof:


    It breaks my heart, but I can kind of see his point.

    • I think sometimes that my children were born under a rock! To be fair, I just had the pictures stuck on one of those albums with plastic pockets (no labels), so she probably didn’t ask me who it was… Funny you should mention U2, Maura…they’re Jim’s second favourite band (after Queen), and we hope they’re going to announce a concert in Moncton this summer on Monday (which we’ll definitely go to!)…Bono never did anything for me, lookswise, but I find The Edge very sexy… Wendy

  19. I cracked up at the image of you with binoculars trying to catch a glimpse of your crush. So funny. The only thing I know about hockey is Wayne Gretzky. Good crush choice, my friend. Hugs, Diane

  20. duke1959

    For that I have no doubt!

  21. Hippie Cahier

    There is absolutely no evaluative nature to this comment. It’s purely observation: Wayne reminds me of Princess Diana in that last picture.

    I refuse to believe he’s 50, even if 50 is the new 30. Unbelievable.

  22. Wow. You were cute! 🙂 And he was indeed very cute too.

    I have to confess: I really don’t follow sports but your post came right after I watched an old episode of Everybody Hates Chris (aka Chris Rock) where Chris skipped school and went with his younger brother all the way to Long Island to get an autograph of Gretzky. It was funny because they kept on referring to the fact that Chris’ brother must have been the only African American kid that loved Hockey.

    • Thanks, Lin…I only watch curling and gymnastics now… Funny you should mention African-Americans and hockey…the first black player in pro hockey was from Fredericton, New Brunswick near where I live: Willie O’Ree. His mom lived in Saint John until she died a few years ago. Hugs, Wendy

  23. Derek Sanderson? Am I misremembering or wasn’t he a enforcer type?

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