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Hockey fans line up all day for chance to meet Wayne Gretzky

WATCH ABOVE: He hasn't played professional hockey in years but The Great One can still draw great crowds. With Wayne Gretzky holding a book signing in Edmonton on Monday, the demand to get access soared. But as Fletcher Kent reports, the decision over who got the chance to meet the hockey legend proved to be contentious.

Andrew Trifaux – a Calgarian – was the first person in line for a wristband to have a book signed by Wayne Gretzky. Only the first 150 fans will also meet The Great One, leaving many others disappointed.

Starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Wayne Gretzky will be at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace. He’ll be there to promote and sign his new book, 99: Stories of the Game.

Trifaux started the line at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. For him, the wait is worth it.

“I’m getting an opportunity to meet and get an autographed book by the greatest player to ever play the game,” he said.

Perhaps surprisingly, Trifaux is neither an Edmontonian nor an Oilers fan.

“Born and raised Calgarian but lifelong Gretzky fan,” he explained.

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“He’s fantastic. He’s one of the greatest ambassadors this game has ever had.”

Everyone will be able to get their hands on a copy of the book, however not everyone will have the opportunity to meet Gretzky. The original number of 400 wristbands was reduced to 150.

“It is unfortunate,” Janet Eger, vice-president of public relations with Indigo, said. “Mr. Gretzky’s team had assessed the situation in prior cities and has reduced the number of wristbands.

“Those who have wristbands will have a chance to have their Wayne Gretzky book signed,” Eger said.

READ MORE: Wayne Gretzky book coming this fall will unveil some of the great moments 

Still, the 7 p.m. event is still open to the public and she hopes hockey fans – with or without a wristband – will come out.

“Our customers’ satisfaction, happiness is always our priority. We’ve been working with them throughout the morning to ensure they’re aware it’s very unlikely they will get a wristband and for that we feel terrible. We do know that the Great One will be here tonight at 7 p.m.

“It’s a public event and we’re encouraging the city to come and show their love to Wayne Gretzky.”

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Jamie Robinson heard about the book signing several weeks ago and took the day off work hoping to speak with #99.

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“I inquired, went down to Chapters, found out all the details and put in three weeks ago that I was taking the day off work. Came here and just was shell shocked that they’re only putting out 150,” Robinson said. “Really disappointed.”

A half-page ad seen in the Edmonton Journal on Oct. 24, 2016.
A half-page ad seen in the Edmonton Journal on Oct. 24, 2016. Global News

“I saw the lineup and I was a little concerned. A lady came and told me that they’d already sold out 150 tickets, wristbands,” he added. “I was a little shocked and the person said to me… ‘We put a posting out on Friday.’ Well, thanks for the head’s up but it’s very disappointing. I totally thought there’d be 400.”

Robinson is sticking around, holding out hope he’ll still get a wristband – and a conversation with Gretzky.

“It would be phenomenal. I’d be asking him about the ’87 Canada Cup, him playing with Lemieux. It would be a great honour to ask him a few questions about that.”

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READ MORE: Books with fake Wayne Gretzky autographs sold by Indigo 

Aleem Jaffer barely missed out on a spot.

“Who does not want to meet Wayne Gretzky? I took two hours of DATS ride to get here and two hours to get back and basically now we’re told that there’s only 150 wristbands and we’ve been waiting in line forever.”

Jaffer was surprised to learn they’d just missed out on the 150 wristbands.

“We were pretty upset about that,” he said. “We were really excited for Wayne Gretzky and it’s really nice to have him in our city. We’re the biggest fans that’s why it hurts a little more. It is what it is.”

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Kelly Moos arrived at 5:30 a.m. and secured the 127th spot in line.

“It’s definitely worth it,” the 18-year-old said.

“It’s one of those things that I’m probably only going to get to do once, to meet Gretzky.”