west side story

Manhattan Man: “It was a tough decision, but it just kept coming back to my gut feel,” a 35-year-old free agent by the name of Wayne Gretzky said on a Sunday of this date in 1996 as he signed a two-year contract worth about US$8-million to play with the New York Rangers, joining his old friend and Edmonton teammate Mark Messier in the Blueshirt cause. “I guess probably what tipped the scale was the chance to play with Mark,” Gretzky added at a news conference at Madison Square Garden, “and the opportunity to get a chance to play with a team that is really focussed on trying to win a championship.” The Rangers didn’t quite get there, of course, in the three years Gretzky that played in New York before he retired in 1999: the best they could manage was an appearance, in 1997, in the Eastern Conference finals, wherein they fell to Philadelphia’s Flyers.