One of the reasons Gretzky survived was that he had "bodyguards" on the ice. No one dared to touch Gretzky, because if you did, his teammates were quick to the rescue. Both the Oilers and Kings loaded up on tough guys, with Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley being the most notable.
So who was Gretzky's first bodyguard? His grandmother.
An interesting story about the man they call "Rhino" - As a kid he played often against Wayne Gretzky's peewee team. But there was one game in particular both remember more than all others. In that particular game Reinhart pinned The Little One against the boards in a rink with no glass to stop the puck from going out of play. He picked the wrong spot as Wayne's grandmother was right there. She grabbed her purse and clubbed Reinhart over the head and told him to "leave my Wayne alone!" Gretzky later joked that the Oilers were looking to sign Grandma Gretzky if Dave Semenko ever got injured.
Grandma Gretzky, Mary to those who knew her well, also served as Wayne's first goalie. She loved hockey, especially the Leafs. Her favorite hockey player was Frank Mahovlich.
When Wayne was just a youngster the family would often visit Mary on Saturday nights. The whole family gathered around the TV to watch Hockey Night In Canada. Little Wayne was more interested in playing the game, even back then.
He would slip and slide in his socks across the polished up pine floor, pretending to skate like the heroes on TV. Mary would give him a ball and a mini stick, the plastic kind you get in a souvineer shop. She would sit in her easy chair and let Wayne take shots all night long, earning as many bruises on her legs as saves she would make.