Monday, November 18, 2013

Smiling at The Great One


Pictured above is the first ever cover of The Hockey News for Wayne Gretzky. It's dated October 27, 1978 and shows a great shot of The Kid as a member of the soon-to-be defunct Indianapolis Racers. My favourite part of the photo is Gretzky's teammate staring at him from the bench, simply smiling.


It's fairly easy to find out the happy player is Claude St.Sauveur. He was the only number 20 on the Racers that season. It's also easy to determine at which game this picture was taken. The Racers are wearing their road dark uniforms, and the only away game they played prior to October 27 was in Quebec against the Nordiques. Indy goalie Eddie Mio shutout the Nords by a score of 4-0. This was the Racers first win of the 78/79 season after losing 6-3 and 9-3 at home. That makes this photo as the day of Wayne Gretzky's first ever professional victory.

This helps identify the backup goalie on the right side of the pic as Gary Inness, riding the pine that evening. He was number "30", which matches the zero visible on his arm. The player in the middle, directly behind Gretzky is defenseman Larry Sacharuk, the only player who's number started with a "4".
Of course Gretzky and Mio would be traded to Edmonton after five more games. In just over a month the entire team would fold. St.Sauveur wound up in Cinncinnati with the Stingers, Inness would end up in the NHL with the Washington Capitals posting a respectable 3.70 GAA in 37 games. 




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