Sports & Gaming

How to Build a Championship Team

Wayne Gretzky

Lesson time 06:08 min

The Oilers’ coach developed a creative style of play based on the unique talents of Wayne and his teammates, and it resulted in a completely different style of hockey and one of the most exciting teams in the league.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Build a Foundation · Learn From Losing


[MUSIC PLAYING] WAYNE GRETZKY: What made the Oilers' system a winning system was that the coach, Glen Sather, he developed a style of play around our unique talents. When you're able to play to your strengths, you put yourself in the best position to be a top performer for yourself and for your team. Well, the style of play that the Edmonton Oilers really wanted to go with was pretty simple. It was basically a lot of puck movement, a lot of skating, a lot of freelancing, really somewhat of a run-and-gun style offense. And he decided he was going to put together this team of 18-, 19-year-old kids, that he was going to develop a style that he truly enjoyed. Ironically, he was the most defensive player that probably played in the NHL, but he was smart enough to realize and see that there is a creativity and imagination about a group of young men that even he didn't know how high they could reach. And so in putting together that team, he had two goals. He wanted a young group of players that loved to play the game and were unselfish. He got very fortunate in guys that fell into his lap that he drafted like Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe. And that was sort of the beginning of putting together this franchise. With that, he wanted to marry it with players who not only were experienced NHL players but were very, very professional and extremely unselfish. Now, all these guys might not have been the greatest players ever to play professional hockey, but what they were was tremendous teachers and students of the game who helped not only the players on the ice but how to grow off the ice. So then with that he was able to add players like Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog, and it just went on and on. It's kind of funny because people look at it and say, did you guys know you'd have six Hall of Fame hockey players on that team? And the truth of the matter was we looked at each other like, gosh, if we don't work hard today, we won't be in the National Hockey League next year or next week. So our whole goal was to work hard every day to be the best we could be so that they couldn't trade us or send us to the minors. We never thought about being Hall of Fame hockey players. That was the last thing on our radar. But we did dream and dream mightily about lifting the Stanley Cup as a group one day. But first-- ANNOUNCER: Here's Gretzky The last word for Gretzky-- WAYNE GRETZKY: --we had to learn by losing. ANNOUNCER: And the New York Islanders have won their fourth straight Stanley Cup. WAYNE GRETZKY: There's a few things that changed over a period of a few years. One is just natural maturity. You know, when you're 18 years old, you think you know everything, and even at 21 you think you know everything, but at 21 you're a lot smarter than you were at 18. It's a hard, long process that you go through to get that ultimate goal of lifting the Stanley Cup. We weren't ready to be champions. We didn'...

About the Instructor

Over his 21-year career, Wayne Gretzky not only rewrote the NHL record book, he also set himself apart as one of the most accomplished professional athletes of all time. Now “The Great One” shares the moments and mindset that made him successful so you can aim for greatness in your own life. Learn the power of an athlete’s mindset and tap into passion, motivation, and dedication. Get ready to take your biggest shot yet.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Wayne Gretzky

NHL star Wayne Gretzky shares his journey and his approach to a winning mindset, from tapping into your true passion to committing to success every day.

Explore the Class
Sign Up