CSG Celebrates Hockey Season with Wayne Gretzky Rookie Cards Worth Thousands

Posted on 12/2/2021

Sports cards featuring Gretzky are considered the most valuable in the world of hockey cards and a highlight of any collection.

Every sport has its “Greatest Of All Time.” In hockey, the undisputed GOAT is Wayne Gretzky. Writers, coaches and his fellow players all agree that Gretzky was the greatest to ever play professional hockey. As a result of the unparalleled respect given to “the Great One,” sports cards featuring Gretzky are considered the most valuable in the world of hockey cards and a highlight of any collection.

Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) is always honored to grade Wayne Gretzky’s most iconic cards, showing the hockey superstar during his rookie year. Here, we look at two recently certified examples.

Click images to enlarge.

A 1979-80 Topps #18 Wayne Gretzky was graded CSG 8, with 8 for Centering and Corners, 9 for Edges and 8.5 for Surface. Another 1979-80 #18 Wayne Gretzky that bears the O-Pee-Chee imprint rather than the Topps imprint was graded CSG 7.5, with 9 for Centering, 7 for Corners, 8 for Edges and 7.5 for Surface. O-Pee-Chee is a Canadian company that partnered with Topps to issue sports cards in Canada.

Click images to enlarge.

The Canadian card typically demands a higher price

The front of the 1979-80 Gretzky card, which is the same for the Topps and O-Pee-Chee versions, shows Gretzky on the ice in his Edmonton Oilers uniform and identifies him as the team’s center. The back of both cards state that Gretzky “is considered the best prospect to turn professional since Guy Lafleur,” with the back of the O-Pee-Chee card including text in both English and French.

Guy Lafleur was a Canadian hockey player who was ten years older than Gretzky and had won five Stanley Cup championships before Gretzky entered the league. The Hockey News ranked Lafleur eleventh on its list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players in 1998. Wayne Gretzky holds first place on the list.

The O-Pee-Chee Gretzy cards are considered harder to find in good condition when compared with the Topps cards because the Canadian company used a lower quality paper stock and employed lower quality printing standards. Thus, they typically demand a higher price.

The list of accolades and accomplishments achieved by Wayne Gretzky during his 20 seasons is beyond impressive. The NHL records that he held at the time of his retirement totaled 61, including most career goals, most goals in one season, most career assists and most assists in one season. He won four Stanley Cups, each while playing with the Edmonton Oilers, and the Hart Trophy, which is the NHL’s MVP award, nine times.

Practice makes greatness

While some commentators went as far as attributing Gretzky’s success to extrasensory perception, he attributed it to persistent practice and the lessons that he learned from his father. Starting at the age of three, Gretzky practiced hockey under his father’s coaching as much as ten hours a day on the family’s backyard rink in Brantford, Ontario.

Gretzky was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame upon his retirement, with the NHL waiving the normal three-year waiting period, and his 99 jersey number was retired league wide, something that has been done for no other professional hockey player.

The National Hockey League started its 105th season of operation in October 2021. Its 32 teams will compete in 82 regular season games, with playoffs beginning on May 2, 2022. The 2021-22 season will include a break to allow players to compete in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

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