PrintPrint kicks off Gretzky's birthday bash with 50 Great Ones Staff

1/24/2011 1:33:24 PM

For over 30 years, the No. 99 has had iconic connotations with sports fans throughout the world. From Belleville to Belarus, the sight of one nine next to another evokes images of greatness and wonder.

While many numbers have become deified in their individual sports, there are few as singularly associated with an individual quite like 99. New York Yankee slugger Babe Ruth made the No. 3 famous, but he hardly claimed it as his own. As NASCAR fans can attest to, the No. 3 means one thing, The Intimidator - Dale Earnhardt.

The same can't be said of the highest of the double digits. Ninety nine means one man and one man only - the skinny kid from Brantford, Ontario who singlehandedly changed the face of hockey as we know it.

Since first strapping on the skates at the age of two, Wayne Douglas Gretzky has been setting and breaking virtually every offensive record in hockey. The man has become synonymous with numbers like 50 in 39, 92, 215, 894 and 2,857. 

And on Wednesday, The Great One adds another significant figure - 50.

It marks Wayne Gretzky's 50th birthday and to commemorate the occasion has compiled 50 Great Ones - the top 50 iconic moments, images and achievements in the career and life of one of Canada's greatest exports.

We look at the numerous highs as well as some of the lows of the remarkable life of hockey's greatest ambassador. From his record shattering days as a minor hockey phenomenon to his first professional contract with the WHA. From his marriage to Hollywood actress Janet Jones and his subsequent trade to the Los Angeles Kings. From the disappointment of Nagano to the triumph of Salt Lake City - all of Gretzky's significant feats have been counted for.

Take a walk down memory lane and relive the excitement of 50 Great Ones on