Wayne Gretzky is going to be on The Simpsons in a few week’s time, according to a recent article at NHL.com (David Satriano). The player that most consider to be the greatest hockey player of all time looks like he will make his appearance in Edmonton Oilers’ colors, orange and blue. That’s one team that Gretzky played for during his playing career, and he is currently affiliated with the club in the capacity of vice-chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group.
The commonly-tweeted cartoon pic of Gretzky shows him in what would have to be called his younger days due to the flowing brown hair. The image shows Oiler stripes and colors. However, the logo is missing (maybe for licensing/copyright reasons). The Simpsons’ artists do get one little detail right as Gretzky had a way of not tucking his jersey in fully. That detail is one that Edmonton old-schoolers will surely appreciate.
Al Jean, an executive producer of The Simpsons, is quoted in the recent NHL article: “People argue about a lot of things, but they never argue about who’s the greatest hockey player. It’s always him. I don’t think there is anybody better at anything that Gretzky is as a hockey player. He had a lot of great stories, and it was a real pleasure to meet him.”
Jean’s totally wrong about people not arguing about Gretzky being the greatest. Mario Lemieux, whose playing career overlapped with Gretzky’s, is the main answer for those who counter the pro-Gretzky argument. Lemieux was more of a body-checker and knocking a guy to the ice while you stay on your feet is a big deal in hockey.
I also take issue about what Jean says regarding nobody being better at anything than Gretzky at hockey. Monica Seles was probably a better tennis player than Wayne Gretzky was a hockey player. Furthermore, Michael Jordan is less controversial a pick in basketball than Gretzky is in hockey for greatest ever.
Jean mentioned other athletes that appeared on The Simpsons over the years: “We just did a list (of athletes on the show),” he said. “[Gretzky is] one of my favorites. I would say the only one that rivals him in terms of success in their sport is the Williams sisters (Serena and Venus) in tennis, and Magic Johnson in the NBA” <sic>.
Serena belongs on the shortlist of “greatest ever” for tennis while Venus does not (it would be a pretty long list for Venus). Magic Johnson belongs on the shortlist of the greatest basketball players too.
But one athlete that I think Jean could have mentioned as a great athlete that appeared on The Simpsons is Ken Griffey Jr., formerly of the Seattle Mariners. Griffey appeared in an old-school episode where Mr. Burns wants the office baseball team to beat that of a rivals’. He hires a bunch of Major Leaguers to work at the plant so that they can play on the team. Griffey may be below the radar in the greatest-ever debates, because he played clean in an era where many of the best juiced.
Anyone that knows the very fine points of Wayne Gretzky’s career will be able to tell you that he is an outright crappy actor. The Simpsons won’t be his first showbiz gig: Gretzky has appearances as the host of Saturday Night Light and as an ‘actor’ in The Young and the Restless on his resume. His SNL skits were egregious with one “you talk too much” ‘punch’ missing another actor by about a foot. When he appeared on Y & R, it seemed like he just couldn’t take a goofy smile off of his face. We’ll see in December if only having to voice act saves the day for the hockey Hall of Famer as it does seem simpler.