World’s most beloved hockey dad Walter Gretzky passes away

Wayne Gretzky with his dad Walter at his last game (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

The hockey world awakens to the sad news that Walter Gretzky has passed away at the age of 82. Recognized as the epitome of a great hockey dad, Walter was beloved by his son Wayne and the entire hockey world.

All through Wayne Gretzky’s meteoric rise, Walter stood by quietly and humbly. He was ever present each time Wayne broke one of the NHL’s coveted records. Walter appeared to always keep his son grounded and humble as Wayne reshaped the game of hockey.

Wayne Gretzky’s farewell to his dad

Wayne Gretzky released a statement late last night that reads in part:

It’s with deep sadness that Janet and I share the news of the passing of my Dad. He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues these last few years, but he never let it get him down.

For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey. He inspired me to be the best I could be not just in the game of hockey, but in life.

We will miss him so much, but know that he’s back with our Mom brings me and my family peace.

The Hockey World Mourns Walter Gretzky’s loss

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Wayne and Walter Gretzky (Dick Loek / via Hamilton Spectator)

There are so many great hockey moms and dads, but Walter was like their ambassador. That’ll happen when you are blessed to raise and guide the greatest hockey player the world has ever seen.

The son of Polish and Russian immigrants, Walter built a backyard rink for his son to play when he was small. When asked about why he did it, he jokingly remarked, “It truly, truly was self-preservation.” Walter reminisced how it was impossible to get Wayne off his skates to leave the pond, leaving him freezing in the cold for hours.

His impact on the hockey world was profound, as he stood by his son with pride in every amazing feat. Every time Wayne would do something special, he would call his parents if they couldn’t be there. Like the night when he scored five goals in Philadelphia to score 50 in 39 games, Wayne immediately called his dad.

Walter in an interview for a the Gretzky documentary “Above and Beyond” was stunned his son would do that. That’s who Wayne was and that’s because of the love for his family, and his dad.

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