— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) March 5, 2021
A gut punch to wake up to today.
Walter Gretzky, Canada’s first hockey Dad, passed away at the age of 82 last night surrounded by family. He was 82.
I had the pleasure of meeting Walter several times. Sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 20 minutes, but Walter made me feel special every time we met. He made everyone feel that way.
Selfless with his time Walter would ask you a couple of questions before posing for as many pictures as you wanted to take after signing all the autographs.
Years ago, Walter was the ‘commissioner’ of the world’s biggest ball hockey tournament in Brantford. We helped promote it along with writer-director Kevin Smith. When we met Walter at center ice for the ceremonial puck drop, Walter leaned in and asked me to collect all the broken sticks at the end of the game because he needed as many sticks as possible.
‘Sure Mr Gretzky, but why?’ I asked.
‘I make benches and boxes with some wonderful blind people and it makes them happy when I show up with hockey sticks,’ Walter replied with that patented massive smile.
The Maple Leafs join the hockey community in mourning the loss of Canada’s hockey dad, Walter Gretzky.
A warm and gracious fixture at Maple Leafs home games for years, Walter made everyone he met feel special. Our condolences to the Gretzky family & Walter’s innumerable friends. pic.twitter.com/fytTX7vGb9
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 5, 2021
Always smiling ear to ear no matter who it was he was meeting or waving to, made everyone he met feel like the most important person in the world.
RIP to Wayne and the entire Gretzky family. Sincerely.