An Emotional Gretzky Accepts MVP Award for Record Ninth Time

Times Staff Writer

Wayne Gretzky became the first player ever to win the same National Hockey League trophy nine times when he received the Hart Trophy as most valuable player Wednesday night in Toronto.

Gretzky had won the trophy eight times as an Edmonton Oiler. This time, he became the first King ever to receive the honor.

It was a perfect ending to his first season as a King, and he joined Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers and Magic Johnson of the Lakers, who also brought MVP trophies to Los Angeles.


In accepting the award, Gretzky had to choke back tears when his long list of thanks came to King owner Bruce McNall, the man who spent millions to make the deal that brought Gretzky to Los Angeles.

At the award ceremonies, Gretzky started to thank “Mr. McNall” and to say, “I wish I could have his name on here. . .” when his voice began to break and his eyes filled with tears. He paused for a moment, then went on to thank his parents and his wife, Janet.

“When I mentioned his name, I started getting all emotional and I couldn’t carry on,” Gretzky said by phone. “He’s been great to me. Like a friend or a father. He’s too nice for professional sports. He’s been a great influence on me. He’s made me one happy person.”

Of Gretzky winning the award, McNall said: “He certainly proved his value not only to the team and the city but to the sport of hockey.”

The other two finalists were Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.

Lemieux, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer for the second straight year, was considered the most likely to challenge Gretzky for the Hart. Lemieux took the Hart last year, stopping Gretzky’s record streak of eight straight.


Lemieux had 199 points this season on 85 goals and 114 assists. Gretzky had 168 points on 54 goals and 114 assists. Yzerman had set club records for goals and assists and held his club together during a tumultuous season. However, Gretzky helped his club improve from 18th overall to fourth.

Gretzky received 267 of a possible 315 points, getting 40 first-place votes, 22 second-place votes and one third-place vote from sportswriters in all NHL cities. Lemieux received 18 first-place votes, 27 second-place votes and 16 third-place votes.

Gretzky was the only player to be named on all 63 Hart Trophy ballots.

Luc Robitaille of the Kings was named to the NHL All-Star team for the second consecutive year. Robitaille, who also played in the All-Star game, as a starting left wing, was honored along with Lemieux, right wing Joe Mullen of Calgary, goalie Patrick Roy of Montreal and defensemen Chris Chelios of Montreal and Paul Coffey of Pittsburgh.

Chelios won the Norris Trophy for the league’s top defenseman, and Mullen won the Lady Byng as the league’s most gentlemanly player.

Roy picked up the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender and shared the William M. Jennings award for the team with the best goals-against average.

Guy Carbonneau of Montreal won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward. And the Adams Trophy for the coach of the year went to Montreal’s Pat Burns.


Brian Leetch of the Rangers won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.

Brian Trottier of the Islanders was awarded the Clancy Trophy as the player who best exemplifies leadership both on and off the ice.