Photo: Geoff Burke
On January 10, 2016, Alex Ovechkin became the fifth-fastest player to reach the 500-goal mark. Tuesday, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen spoke to Wayne Gretzky and asked The Great One, who has scored the most goals in NHL history with 894 career tallies, if he thinks Ovechkin, this generation’s greatest goal scorer, can catch him.
“You know, this is going to sound funny, and I don’t mean this to sound egotistical, but the first 500 are the easy ones; it’s the next 500, when you’re getting a little bit older and your body is a little bit worn down, the travel and physical part of the game catches up to you. I always tease my kids, the first 500 is the easy part. You know though, he’s got the one thing that you’ve got to have to get to 894, you’ve got to have a passion for scoring goals. He has that passion for scoring goals. People don’t realize, even as good as you are, you’ve got to get to those dirty areas and that’s how you’re going to score goals, and he does that. For me, I knew it was time to retire because my last year I had nine goals. I had a lot of assists (53), but scoring goals as you get older becomes harder because you know how hard it is and how much it hurts to score goals, and you just let your guard down a little bit as you get older.
“If he can sustain his pace, there’s no question in my mind that he has the ability and the talent and the work ethic to be able to do it. And if he does it, I’ll be the first guy there to shake his hand. If there is one guy out there that can do it, there’s no question it’s him. Records are made to be broken. When Gordie got to 802, people probably said, ‘Nobody will break that.’ For me, at 894, someday somebody will come along to break it. You don’t know who it’s going to be or how long, but that’s what sports are all about. Records are made to be broken. Nobody ever thought someone would break Babe Ruth’s record, and along came Hank Aaron. Nobody thought Lou Gehrig’s record would ever be beaten, and along came Cal Ripken. That’s what sports are all about. That’s what excites fans. Alex, no question, he brings people out of their seats and he gets fans excited. He’s a guy you pay to go watch play, no question about it.”
Ovechkin, who is only 30-years-old, would have to score 390 more goals to surpass Gretzky. Let’s say the Russian machine plays until he’s 38 (he’s already said he won’t play until his 40’s like Jagr). Ovechkin would have to average 49 goals a season to catch Gretzky.
I’m just not seeing it, but one can dream.
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