Gretzky Nearly Retired After Dirty Hit

Published on March 26th, 2024 12:56 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The Gary Suter hit effectively brought an end to Wayne Gretzky It's ridiculous to comprehend, but Wayne Gretzky could have finished his career with even MORE points.

On September 14th, 1991, Canada was playing the United States in the first of a best-of-three final.

Canada was stacked with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey, and the United States had a very good team as well.

This was a pre-season exhibition series, though it was taken very seriously by the participants.

During Game 1 of the finals, Gary Suter hit Wayne Gretzky with a cheap-shot hit from behind that sent Gretzky crumpling to the ice. Gretzky attempted to skate it off, but eventually pulled himself from the game.


Heading into the 1991 Canada Cup, the 30 year-old Gretzky was still in the prime of his career. In the previous season with the Los Angeles Kings, Gretzky had put up 41 goals and 122 assists for a total of 163 points.

Gretzky had dealt with back issues prior to the Suter hit, though this was a particularly vicious blow that changed the trajectory of Gretzky's career.

In fact, Gretzky dealt with so much pain as a result of the hit that he contemplated retirement.

In the end, however, Gretzky would press on.


The Gary Suter hit effectively brought an end to Wayne Gretzky's prime.

Gretzky would never hit 40 goals in a single season again, and his even strength point production would fall off of a cliff, dropping by near 0.5 PPG.

Gretzky would still have some very productive years, including in 1993-94, when he would put up 38 goals and 92 points, though his effectiveness was certainly brought down a notch by Suter's hit.

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