During his 20 years in the NHL, Wayne Gretzky has been able to both hold and share a staggering 61 records on his way to becoming one of the greatest hockey player of all time. These records include the most goals in a season with 92 and the most assists in a season with 163.
One record that was considered to be unbreakable for the longest time was Gretzky’s record of 894 goals in a career. The reason it was viewed by many as unbreakable was because of the way the defense has changed in hockey. During Gretzky’s time, NHL teams scored an average of 3.40 goals scored per game, with the highest at 3.95 and the lowest being 2.53 in the 1996 to 1997 season. Throughout his career, Gretzky racked up 2857 career points, being the only player in NHL history to score over 2000 points with the next closest being NHL ironman Jaromir Jagr at 1921 points.
Another record deemed to be unbreakable is Gretzky’s record of 894 career goals scored in the league with less scoring and much stronger goalies’ defenses. The thought of someone even coming close seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. However, as impossible as it seems, there is a legitimate challenger to the record by the name of Alex Ovechkin.
Throughout his 17 seasons in the NHL, Ovechkin has proven to be one of if not the most dominant goal-scorers in NHL history. With his signature power play that is near unstoppable, Ovechkin has racked up impressive numbers considering all the adversity he has had to go through.
In his rookie year, the 2004-05 lockout happened, canceling the entire season and making this the second time in NHL history that the Stanley Cup was not awarded. The only other time was in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu pandemic. Along with the rest of the world hockey had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the second half of the NHL season until the playoffs. Even this season, Ovechkin missed time due to his father’s sudden passing, causing him to miss four games this season.
Even through all this adversity, it has not slowed down Ovechkin in the slightest from chasing Gretzky for the goal record. On Feb. 20, 2020, in 15 seasons, he broke the 700 career-goal mark, and in December of this season, Ovechkin passed the 800 mark along with passing Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, for second all-time in goals scored with 802.
On March 21, 2023, Ovechkin passed one of Gretzky’s milestones by breaking the record for most 40-goal seasons in a career with 13. If he is able to score 50 this season, he will break the record for most seasons with 50 goals as he is currently tied with Gretzky and the late New York Islander star Mike Bossy.
As it stands right now, Ovechkin has 821 goals all time and is 73 away from making the impossible a reality. To put into perspective the number of goals he has scored in this era, the next closest active player is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Sidney Crosby, who has played the same number of seasons as Ovechkin has, 544. As unlikely as it seems, Ovechkin may very well be two seasons away from breaking a record that was once considered to be unbreakable.