In the world of hockey, Wayne Gretzky still looms large. Even if you don’t particularly care about the Edmonton Oilers, it’s impossible to ignore Great One’s offensive accomplishments. For most NHL fans, having a conversation with the living legend would be a dream come true. Connor Bedard, however, has already checked that off the list.
For the NHL prospect, however, the interaction almost went south before it even started. In fact, Bedard nearly refused to answer the phone when the number 99 came calling.
Let’s travel back in time and check it out.
Wayne Gretzky contacted Connor Bedard in 2020, but he almost got sent to voicemail
While we’ve all seen plenty of prospects fail to live up to the hype — Oilers fans will remember Nail Yakupov, for example — Connor Bedard looks poised to make a legit impact at the NHL level. This reality has already earned him a personal gesture from Wayne Gretzky.
In 2020, the teenager applied for – and was granted – exceptional status, allowing him to play major junior hockey a year early. It’s a great honor, and the Great has apparently noticed.
“After being given exceptional status, he called,” Bedard told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post. There was, however, a catch.
“It was a random number from California, so I didn’t know if I should pick up or not,” the teenager admitted. And, even when he answered, he wasn’t quite sure who was on the other end of the line. “I thought it was a buddy pranking me at first, but it sounded like him,” Bedard added.
Eventually, however, the North Vancouver native established that he was, in fact, the NHL’s all-time best dog on the other end of the line. Their conversation wasn’t very long, but it was still memorable.
“The call didn’t last long. It was just a ‘congratulations’ and ‘good luck,’” Bedard explained, noting that he stutters and can barely speak. “It was a quick conversation, but any time you can talk to him, it’s pretty special.”
So far, Bedard hasn’t needed Gretzky’s luck too much. Although he entered the WHL as an exceptional prospect, the center had an incredible impact with the Regina Pats. He recorded 28 points in 15 games in his first campaign with the club and reached the 100-point plateau in his second outing. The center’s third major junior season is still underway, but he’s already outdone himself, tallying 142 points (70 goals and 72 assists) in 55 games. Add in a historic performance at the World Junior Championships and it’s easy to see why he was selected as the surefire No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
If the young Canadian continues on his current trajectory, he will have many more encounters with the biggest names in hockey. This reality, however, doesn’t change the fact that getting a call from the Great was pretty awesome.
“It says a lot about him for him to do something like that,” Bedard said. “For me growing up as a hockey fan, obviously I never watched him because I’m too young, but he’s the epitome of greatness. It’s something you don’t really forget, and it’s definitely very special.
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