Today, it might leave the arena under armed guard. That wasn’t the case back in 1989. The puck Wayne Gretzky shot into the net to break the NHL’s all-time scoring record wound up being saved–in the timekeeper’s briefcase.
22 years later, it’s on the auction block.
Ironically, Gretzky scored the goal while playing for the L.A. Kings in Edmonton, the city where he had made himself a household name. It gave him 1851 career points, but of course Gretzky was nowhere near finished.
The shot past Bill Ranford came in October of that year, with former record holder Gordie Howe and Gretzky’s parents all in attendance. It tied the game at 4 and Gretzky, of course, won the game in overtime with another goal. In between the third period and OT, there was a 20-minute ceremony to honor the accomplishment.
The linesman that night had retrieved the record-breaking puck and handed it over to Don Whidden, the timekeeper at Northlands Coliseum. Several other pucks were saved that night and Whidden noted the significance of each with a piece of tape. On the puck that pushed Gretzky past Howe he wrote “This One is the Real One”.
The puck carries both the Oilers’ team logo and the NHL crest and “basically got lost in the shuffle,” Whidden told the National Post of Canada. “But this is the puck he set the record with, I can guarantee it.”
Whidden and others no doubt figured there would be many more milestones for Gretzky and the Hockey Hall of Fame apparently never asked for it, so the puck remained in his possession. Only recently while talking to a sports memorabilia collector did he mention owning it. According to the Post, Whidden sold the puck “for a small fee” and it has now wound up in the auction.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Wayne Gretzky Foundation.