By Ian Oland
While two lockouts and the coronavirus pandemic have robbed Alex Ovechkin of countless NHL games during his prime, NHL legend Jaromir Jagr, who is still playing hockey at age 48, still thinks that his friend can overtake Wayne Gretzky and capture the NHL goals record.
Jagr, who scored 766 goals in 1,733 NHL games, made the comments on Monday while making an appearance at Moscow’s VTB Arena for the 70th anniversary celebration of Avangard Omsk, his former KHL team.
“Earlier I thought Ovechkin doesn’t have any chances to break Gretzky’s goal record,” Jagr said. “It was six years ago. But Alex has changed and became a better and more effective hockey player than he was in [his] youth. I think he works harder now. He’ll be able to [break Gretzky’s record] if he can stay healthy and keep working as hard as now.”
In another interview that day, Jagr added that “It all depends on when the next season starts, but in general it is possible.”
This comes after Jagr first weighed in on Ovechkin’s chase of Gretzky during the Russian machine’s 700 goals ceremony in February.
“700 goals is a lot of goals,” Jagr said in a video he filmed to congratulate Ovechkin. “If I would be Wayne Gretzky, I’d be shaking right now. Because I think you’re going to beat him.”
Currently, Ovechkin has scored 706 times in his career and sits 188 goals behind Wayne Gretzky’s 894. The 35-years-old Capitals captain, who is going into the final year of his contract, recently said that he’ll play at most, five more seasons in the NHL.
“I have only played for two teams, Dynamo and Washington,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously, I will stay with Washington for another two… three… four… five years. And then I would like to finish on a high note, to play my final game with Dynamo.”
That means Ovi would have to average 31.3 goals per season (including a presumed pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season) to reach Gretzky’s high watermark.
Ovi, as of now, is the eighth greatest goal scorer of all time and could pass Mike Gartner (708), Phil Esposito (717), Marcel Dionne (731), and Brett Hull (741) with another 40-goal season next year.
Ovechkin and the Capitals will negotiate a new contract when he returns for training camp in the winter.
Meanwhile, Jagr weighed in on his own chase of Gretzky. The Czech superstar finished his career with 766 goals, third-most all time.
“When I decided to go to Russia for a second time, it was clear that I could not break Gretzky’s record,” Jagr said. “But after I returned, I spent six more years in the NHL. If I had stayed in the NHL, maybe I would have had a chance. But I never considered myself a pure sniper. Alex Ovechkin is a sniper.”
He added, “I myself was kind of a mixture of Wayne and Alexander. Gretzky gave more passes, and Ovechkin scores more. I am, it turns out, something in between.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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