I grew up watching Wayne Gretzky, and it didn’t take long to spot his most important, signature move. It wasn’t a deke on a goalie, or something he performed “in his office” behind the goal. Gretzky’s bread-and-butter play was that tight curl inside the blueline. He’d come up the right side of the ice about 10 feet from the boards, gain the line, take one more stride, then make that curl towards the wall.
When he emerged from his little circle, two things had happened: The gap between Gretzky and the defenceman—who by now had hit the brakes and was standing still—had increased; and a teammate (often Paul Coffey) who had been defending in Gretzky’s absence was given time to catch up to the play and become that deadly trailer, the only guy in the zone coming with speed. Try that move today and Gretzky would be simultaneously introduced to what coaches call “back pressure,” and what medics call “a stretcher."