For as long as most of us can remember, the number one points getter of all time in the NHL has been the easiest trivia question to answer.
Even people who've never watched a hockey game in their lives seem to know his name. They don't call him the Great One for nothing!
Gretzky ended his career with 2,857 points (894 goals and 1,963 assists). In case you're wondering, the number two all-time for points is Jaromir Jagr, who ended with 1,921 points, nearly 1,000 points behind Gretzky. That is a huge gap.
Similarly, in the assists column, the closest to Gretzky is Ron Francis, who managed 1,249 assists. That's over 700 less assists than Wayne managed. Again, it's no contest.
And when it came to goals? Ever since Wayne scored his 802nd goal in 1994 to pass Gordie Howe's 801, he's often looked untouchable there, too. 894 goals is a lot of goals. But then along came Ovie ...
Thanks to his performance on Friday, December 23 versus the Wiinipeg Jets, Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin has now passed Gordie Howe and is sitting at number two all-time with 802 goals. He is just 92 goals shy of tying Gretzky. And as a player who is still scoring in bunches, he appears to genuinely have a chance of passing him.
Can the seemingly impossible actually happen? Can someone really manage to catch Gretzky?
The case for the Great Eight
Alex Ovechkin makes a really strong case for himself. For one, he also has a nickname with 'Great' in it (The Great Eight, after his number 8).
But seriously, he has been one of the most consistent goal scorers ever. He has one of the highest goals per game averages in NHL history, yes, even higher than Wayne's. And while Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews' average is a little higher than Ovie's, Matthews is only 25.
Ovechkin is 37 and has been keeping that high average rolling for 17 NHL seasons and counting. That's incredible. Why?
Because once players hit 34 or 35, even the best tend to slow down. They aren't as fast as they once were. The game gets harder for them. And the first thing to go? It's usually their goal scoring.
And yet here we are in 2022, and Ovechkin is tied for seventh in league scoring, seemingly as consistent as ever. The greatest goal scoring season in the NHL by a player over 35? That was Ovechkin's season last year, when he scored 50(!) at age 36.
Still, you would think that at some point his goal scoring will have to slow down. He's still human, right?
Well, about that ...
Yes, he is human. But if you remember the year that the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, you'll remember just how unbelievably determined he was in his play. After years of watching his greatest rival, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, win Cup after Cup, he simply played like someone who refused to be denied his destiny. It was impressive.
Now he says that he wants to break Gretzky's record. He is determined. He'll likely need to play until he's 40 to do it. But you get the feeling that he would find a way to play until he was 50 if it meant that he could finally catch Wayne. Once again, it's hard to imagine him being denied.
And you know who else doesn't think that Ovie will be denied? The Great One himself.
Now a hockey commentator, Gretzky has said numerous times that it's not a question of if his goal record is broken, but "when". And he's excited for it to happen.
The Great One is rooting for the Great Eight. pic.twitter.com/DVGvLQJRVb
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) April 20, 2020
So how do you feel about it? Ovechkin is already one of the greatest goal scorers hockey has ever seen. Would you like to see the Great Eight pass the Great One to be the GREATEST ever?
Watch him score goal number 802 in the video below.