Gretzky still among most popular Canadians

A recent national survey determined retired hockey great Wayne Gretzky hasn't been forgotten by the Canadian public.

While he hasn't strapped on the skates for an NHL game for more than a decade, The Great One is still magic in the hearts of Canadian hockey fans.

Wayne Gretzky turned 50 years old on Wednesday, Jan. 26, generating a lot of buzz online and in the news about his unmatched career.

The Toronto Star reports that although he is no longer putting pucks in the net, a recent survey by The Canadian Press-Harris Decima determined Gretzky, NHL superstar Sidney Crosby and environmentalist David Suzuki received the highest favourable ratings among Canadian celebrities.

The survey respondents, at just over 1,000 people, were asked to rate the celebs from one to 10, with 10 being the highest. The national average was 7.29 for Gretzky, compared to Crosby (7.24) and Suzuki (7.17). Gretzky holds or shares 61 NHL records.

Some of his accomplishments hockey fans will never forget include hitting the 50-goal mark in only 39 games, a number that players seldom reach in a full season.

On Dec. 30, 1981, playing for the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Gretzky notched the 50th goal in 39 games, smashing the previous mark of 50 goals in 50 games by Maurice 'Rocket' Richard and Mike Bossy. That same season, Gretzky set the bar for goals in a regular season at 92.

While there are too many to list, other magical moments include assisting on 163 goals in 1985-86, and amassing 153 points in a 51-game scoring streak in 1983–84.

However, along with his many goals, assists and the four Stanley Cup victories he helped earn for Edmonton in the 1980's, Canadians will also likely never forget when Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988 – following a season he hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head.

From that moment, Gretzky would find himself in the Stanley Cup finals just once more, following the hard-fought Conference finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993.

But it wasn't to be. Although winning the first game in the finals against the Montreal Canadiens, the latter squad outmatched Gretzky's Kings and took the series four games to one.

He went on to less memorable campaigns for the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers, and finished his playing career in New York.

Despite being retired, Gretzky is still involved in hockey, creating the Wayne Gretzky Foundation in 2002 to help less fortunate youth experience the sport.

Happy belated birthday!