Hockey world paying tribute to the Great One's father, Walter Gretzky

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Walter Gretzky, a blue-collar symbol of a devoted hockey parent in a country filled with them, has died. Tributes poured in shortly after his son, hockey great Wayne Gretzky, confirmed the 82-year-old's death Thursday night.

Here is what some in the hockey world had to say about the Gretzky patriarch:

"RIP Walter Gretzky - was always a class act and someone my parents enjoyed running into at Leaf games." — Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk.

"Sad news!!! Walter Gretzky was so genuine and such a people person. If we had more people like Walter on this earth, the world undoubtedly would be a better place!!!" — former NHLer Marc Savard.

"I’m so sorry to hear of Walter Gretzky’s passing. A legend. A gentleman. A kind soul. He cared about so may others before himself. I think that if we aspired to be half as great as Walter, we would be ok." — former NHLer Darren Pang.

"Always the gentleman. Always had a smile and so incredibly generous with his time. Canada’s hockey dad is a very fitting description." — Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

"He was truly a great guy. Godspeed Walter." — Don Cherry.

"My heart goes out to the Gretzky family. He was what we all picture as a proud hockey dad." — former NHLer Martin Biron.

"Obviously a pioneer of the game. And it’s a really sad day, so my condolences go out to the Gretzky family." -- Toronto Maple Leafs centre and alternate captain Auston Matthews

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press