Wayne Gretzky’s gift to his Swedish teammates is worth millions – lost for 10 years: “I never sell it”

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Wayne Gretzky would play his last game ever.
Then he wants to do something really extra for his teammates.
Today, the gifts, which were distributed to three Swedes, are worth millions of kroner.
– I will never sell it, says Niklas Sundström, former teammate of Gretzky, to Sportbibeln.

The entire hockey world watched as Wayne Gretzky played his very last game. The Great One, as he was called, had broken every record that could be broken in the NHL, and would now lace up the skates for the very last time, for the New York Rangers, where he finished his career. But Gretzky was a step ahead of everyone else when it came to the parting, just as he did when it came to the play on the ice.

Incredible gift

After the game, Gretzky had a hard time finding the words. He told the media that he never wanted to take off his match clothes, because he knew he would not put the overalls back on. Then he gathered his teammates and the Rangers coaches and handed out a club each. What was so special? Before the match, Gretzky had signed the clubs, and he made sure to make an exchange with all of them, roughly 40 in number, during the match.

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New York Rangers Wayne Gretzky smiles during pre-game warms up against the Ottawa Senators, in Kanata, Ontario, Thursday, April 15, 1999. Gretzky is rumored to be retiring after the last game of the season on Sunday. (AP Photo/Tom Hanson) Code: 433 COPYRIGHT SCANPIX SWEDEN

All teammates in Rangers, as well as the staff around the team, thus received a match-used stick from the greatest final game of all time. If he understood the value in the gesture, we will leave it unsaid, but it is clear that three Swedes – Niklas Sundström, Peter Popovic and Johan Witehall – played the match, and received the gift. Today, a club is worth more than one million kroner.

Recently, a stick from Gretzky’s last game was auctioned at the auction house Sotheby’s. The final price was SEK 1,521,287.

When Sportbibeln reaches Niklas Sundström, who thus has an exactly the same club at home, he hardly believes that it is true.

– What the hell…! Then I might have to sell mine, he says jokingly.

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Worth more than 1.5 million

In practice, therefore, Sundström, Popovic and Witehall could collect roughly 1.5 million kroner each if they chose to dispose of the treasure, but at least that is not something that Sundström plans to do.

– I will never sell it. It will be in the office for a while to come, he says, before jokingly continuing:

– Maybe there will be some field hockey or something with it… No, but it is actually very fresh.

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961106 Ice hockey, NHL, New York Islanders – New York Rangers, 1-1: Niklas Sundström, New York Rangers. Photo: BILDBYRÅN

The fact is that Niklas Sundström is a little lucky that he even has it in his account at all. The club – which is signed on the top with “1487”, presumably matches he played in the NHL, and on the back of the blade signed with the date and autograph – was in fact very popular for many years. But the situation was saved by the legendary materials manager in Tre Kronor, Anders “Pudding” Weiderstål.

– After we got the clubs, and after the last match, I went straight away to the WC. I packed up my clubs and also the one I got from Gretzky. When it was over, I kind of forgot about it. Turns out Pudding kept it at the Covenant. I met him several times after that, but about ten years later, when I met AIK or Djurgården in Stockholm, he told me about it, and then I got that match. He had kept it in good custody. It looked exactly like when I got it, he says.

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190207 Equipment manager Anders Weiderstål of Sweden during Beijer Hockey Games match between Czech Republic and Sweden on February 7, 2019 in Stockholm. Photo: Kenta Jönsson / BILDBYRÅN

Sundström remembers Gretzky as a great teammate, and the club gesture was just one example of that.

– It’s class through and through. That’s how he is as a person, a class person. That was damn nice of him. It wasn’t something he had to do, but he did it to be nice.

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