Wayne Gretzky wants the NHL to retire No. 9 in honor of the late Gordie Howe.
Gretzky, who counts Howe as his hockey idol and a mentor, said Tuesday at the public visitation for the Red Wings legend that he’d like to see the jersey retired across the league, according to ESPN. Gretzky’s own No. 99 is retired league-wide.
“I'm pretty biased,” Gretzky said during the visitation at Joe Louis Arena. “If I had my way, I would do it. But that's for the league. I'm not involved with the league right now. But listen, whatever they choose to do is going to be very special because Gordie deserves something really special and unique.
“I don't think anybody helped promote, support the game, the sport or our country better than Gordie Howe,” Gretzky continued. “He was proud to be a Canadian, proud to be from Saskatchewan. And I don't think the NHL is going to overlook the fact of how important he was to the game so I'm sure they are going to do something real special for him.”
• SI remembers Gordie Howe
Gretzky, former Tigers star Al Kaline and former Red Wings mastermind Scotty Bowman were among the notables in attendance at the visitation, which runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday in honor of Howe’s jersey number. Gretzky, who broke Howe’s career records for points and goals, will be one of the pallbearers at Howe’s funeral, which is set for Wednesday in Detroit.