Modified on November 26, 2020, before another auction
Aged 16 in 1977, Wayne Gretzky plays with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. He admires Gordie Howe and wants to have like him the number 9. This is not possible : the 9 is already assigned to another player. Gretzky chooses 99 instead.
Gretzky is wearing the 99 throughout his great career. This number becomes the symbol of his success. When he retires as a player in 1999, the 99 is withdrawn in all the clubs of the National Hockey League. His admission in that retirement year into the Hockey Hall of Fame is another unprecedented honor. At that time he held 61 NHL records. For the time being, none has been overcome.
In January 1979 Gretzky turns 18 years old. He signs a 10-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association. A few months later the WHA is terminated and the Oilers are integrated into the NHL. The 1979-1980 season is then Gretzky's rookie year in NHL.
A game used Oilers jersey signed with a black marker by Gretzky within the 99 figure passed at Goldin on August 2, 2018, lot 58. It is estimated $ 450K in an online sale by Sotheby's and Goldin, ending on December 7, lot 34. Eleven days before the closing, the reserve is off.
This road jersey is fitted on the shoulders with the Edmonton 1904-1979 patch memorizing the 75th anniversary of the City of Edmonton, which was only used for that season. The jersey was compared with another example on display at Gretzky's Restaurant in Toronto. The features are similar except for the sewn nameplate that is later on the jersey for sale.
Two matchings have been accepted by MeiGray. On one of them the jersey did not have a nameplate, which was the usual practice of the Oilers during the pre-season.