Ty shares one of dad’s traits

It isn’t often that an early-season Midget ‘AA’ exhibition hockey series generates big excitement around town.
And while I haven’t lived here very long, I have it on pretty good authority that the Fort Frances Canadians don’t normally draw what I’d estimate to be roughly 800 paying fans to their opening game of the season.
That should, by no means, be construed as a slight towards the Canadians—it’s simply just a fact that few Midget hockey teams are able to draw paying crowds of that size.
However, this past weekend’s three-game showdown between the Canadians and the Shattuck St. Mary’s Sabres was not your average series of hockey games.
The reason behind the abnormal amount of excitement surrounding the event?
Well, it’s really very simple—the presence of Ty Gretzky.
His is the most famous of hockey surnames. Just the mention of it is bound to prick up the ears of even the most casual hockey fans.
It is a name made famous by Wayne Gretzky—widely considered the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of skates.
A phenom at 16 years old, the man who eventually would be known simply as “The Great One” dominated minor hockey before making the jump to the professional ranks, first with the now defunct World Hockey Association and then the National Hockey League.
According to my friends at Wikipedia, Wayne Gretzky holds no fewer than 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and six all-star records.
He won four Stanley Cups while playing with the Edmonton Oilers, and amassed 10 league scoring titles and nine Most Valuable Player awards over his 20-year career.
Simply put, the guy was amazing.
So when word began to circulate in the days leading up to the weekend series that Wayne Gretzky’s son was coming to town to play hockey, people got excited.
Maybe they had visions of seeing the next great young hockey player. Maybe they thought he’d take to the ice and display some of the same magic with which his famous father used to dazzle hockey fans across North America.
Or maybe they just thought he’d entertain them with a slick pass or nifty shot.
If that was the case, then those people left the rink after Friday night’s game hugely disappointed.
The simple truth of the matter is this—Ty Gretzky does not possess his father’s skill on the ice.
He’s not a superstar. Heck, he’s not even the best player on his team.
That distinction probably would have to be shared by Casey Ray and Phil Bruggeman. The two forwards gave the Canadians fits all weekend long racking up points at a rapid pace.
However, as I sat in the press box marvelling at the size of the crowd, something struck me. Perhaps Ty wasn’t so different from his father after all.
Take a minute to consider the amount of pressure and scrutiny this young man faces every time he steps on the ice. The deck is completely stacked against him.
I’ve never spoken to Ty Gretzky, but I’d wager he’s not a stupid guy. I’m sure he’s more aware than anyone else on the face of this Earth that it’s extremely unlikely he’ll ever match his dad’s on-ice achievements.
But, and this is the important part, despite the general public’s expectations, Ty Gretzky continues to play the game.
This suggests to me that he really and truly loves the game of hockey—a trait that was the hallmark of Wayne Gretzky’s illustrious career.

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