The National Hockey League kicked off its 2002-2003 season on Wednesday with three games. The Carolina Hurricanes hosted the New York Rangers, the Dallas Stars visited the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings hosted the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Kings’ game against Phoenix featured ceremonies leading up to the retirement of Wayne Gretzky‘s number. Gretzky’s former teammates and coaches were on hand as the banner bearing his #99 was unveiled in the rafters of the Staples Center.
It marked the third time that Gretzky’s number had been retired. The NHL removed it from use during the 1999 All-Star Game and the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky’s first NHL team, followed suit later.
Also in honor of Gretzky, the Kings wore their old-style jerseys during their 4-1 win over Gretzky-owned Phoenix. The white, sliver and black jerseys were originally worn from 1988-1998 and were the only style of Kings jersey Gretzky wore.
In the other games of the night, Colorado honored their franchise’s eight straight division championship, a streak reaching back to their last season as the Quebec Nordiques, before battling to a 1-1 tie with Dallas. Stars’ netminder Marty Turco made forty saves in the effort.
The revamped New York Rangers downed the defending Eastern Conference Champion Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1. Rangers captain Mark Messier scored twice and new acquisitions Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparaitis were held pointless.