It's Crazy How Much Walter Gretzky's Backyard Rink Changed The Course Of Hockey History

We had Sportsnet's terrific NHL host Jeff Marek on this week's Spittin' Chiclets to discuss recent news from the hockey world. The passing of Walter Gretzky, Canada's Hockey Dad, was obviously the first thing we talked about. Not only was the beloved Wally the father of the Great One, he was also a Great One in his singular way. The late patriarch of the Gretzky clan was one of the sport's great ambassadors over the last 40+ years. Tirelessly polite and approachable, Wally was a proud Canadian son of immigrants who was forever spreading hockey's good vibes. He also answered every piece of mail and request that would arrive almost daily in a full mailbag.

Jeff brought up a Jack Handey-level deep thought to the show: "What would the hockey world be like if Walter Gretzky didn't make that backyard rink?". And it's pretty insane when you think about the many ripple effects on an entire sport over decades all because a dad wanted to get his boys some ice time in the yard. 

99 shatters every record while making Edmonton a dynasty (and introduces people to Edmonton).

Gets traded to L.A. and instantly proves that hockey can work in a warm-weather city.

Franchises soon pepper the American South in places known more for grits than grit.

Kids from those cities start playing hockey and become NHL superstars themselves.

The NHL grows to heretofore unseen heights, profits, and talent levels.

And like Jeff says, we're still riding his wave. All because Walter Gretzky built that rink.

We also have Vegas Golden Knight/absolute stud Mark Stone on the episode. Among other things, the boys asked him about getting drafted in the 6th round...

We also recap our week down in Jupiter, the Tom Wilson suspension, and the Geoff Ward firing. Give it a whirl.