Gretzky Has the Answer : Hockey: King center scores two goals, assists on the others in 5-3 victory after Ducks make him a verbal target.


The Mighty Ducks learned a lesson of the Don’t-Tug-on-Superman’s-Cape variety Friday night, when Wayne Gretzky made them pay for some extremely unwise words.

With all the modesty a man can muster when he owns 60 NHL records and has just moved two goals closer to his 61st, Gretzky spoke the plain, simple truth after the Kings’ 5-3 victory.

“You know, I guess people just never learn that these kind of things kind of push me,” he said.


Gretzky scored two goals and assisted on the Kings’ other three in front of a sellout crowd of 17,174 at Anaheim Arena. His 792nd and 793rd goals leave him eight shy of Gordie Howe’s record of 801. And he could have had a couple more. He hit the goal post in the first period, and Duck goalie Guy Hebert stopped him on a breakaway in the third.

King Coach Barry Melrose shook his head after thanking the Ducks and Tony Tavares, the club president, for the comments that lent an assist to the Kings’ victory.

“I can’t believe there are still people in the NHL who would challenge Wayne Gretzky,” Melrose said. “I just can’t believe it. I hope everyone does. I hope everyone in the league rips him.”

The Ducks have talked big about the Kings all week, saying that “five-on-five” they think they are a better team, but the words that got to Gretzky came from Tavares, who said Gretzky gets preferential treatment from officials--that he “cries all the time” and “has influenced more calls than any other player probably in the history of sports.”

And the Ducks’ Todd Ewen said Gretzky is more likely to win the “Whiner Byng,” than the Lady Byng--the trophy given to the NHL player who best exemplifies gentlemanly conduct and playing ability.

Gretzky saw the comments Friday morning, and after he told King owner Bruce McNall about it, McNall knew what everybody but the Ducks seemed to.


“Uh-oh, they’re in for a long night,” McNall said. “I didn’t think (Tavares) meant anything by it, but anything that can get Wayne pumped up is great.”

Said Gretzky: “I’m very surprised at Mr. Tavares’ comments. . . . They were pretty much uncalled for. It kind of lit a fire underneath me today and I was ready to go.

“I felt his comments were totally uncalled for and very unprofessional for the president of a hockey club.

“I think they learned a very valuable lesson tonight that you do your talking on the ice.”

Jari Kurri scored also scored twice, and Kelly Hrudey made 46 saves

“It was a very big game, and who else but Wayne Gretzky rose to the occasion again for about the 1,000th time, showing once again he’s the greatest ever to play the game,” Hrudey said.

The Ducks--who had three potential goals ruled no-goal--cut the lead to 4-3 in the third period on Bobby Dollas’ slap shot from the left point at 9:52.

But they couldn’t tie it, and Gretzky scored the clincher into an empty net from just beyond his own blue line at 18:48.


The Kings led, 2-0, in the first period when Gretzky scored one goal and assisted on Mike Donnelly’s goal. But the Ducks tied the score with two rare power-play goals by Shaun Van Allen and Bob Corkum.

The Kings jumped back ahead in the second behind two goals from Kurri, both of them assisted by Gretzky.

Only 57 seconds into the period, Gretzky skated down the right wing boards, spotted Kurri through a crowd and passed the puck to him in the opposite circle. Kurri lifted the puck high on Hebert for a 3-2 lead.

As for the Kings, they declined all opportunities to criticize the Ducks.

“You’d be stupid not to respect your opponents--or say anything about them in the press,” Melrose said.