Wayne Gretzky scored 894 goals in his unmatched Hall of Fame career. That record, which was once thought to be untouchable, will now be challenged by Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals captain signed a five-year contract extension over the offseason, and enters the 2021-22 season trailing The Great One by only 164 goals.
Wednesday, Gretzky, who was hired by Turner Sports as a TV analyst, started off a TNT media event by commenting on the Capitals’ season-opening game against the New York Rangers, which will be aired on TNT on Wednesday, October 13.
“You get to see Alex (Ovechkin) try to chase down my record, which I hope he breaks,” Gretzky said.
Wayne Gretzky on NHL on TNT debut game between New York Rangers-Washington Capitals on Oct. 13: "You get to see Alex (Ovechkin) try to chase down my record, which I hope he breaks."
— A.J. Perez (@byajperez) October 6, 2021
During the virtual media event, TNT also showed off its new set and the chemistry between its host, Liam McHugh, and its fellow analysts, Rick Tocchet, Anson Carter, and Paul Bissonette.
NHL on TNT’s crew chatting with the media and showing off a sleek looking set. pic.twitter.com/cctXGVGLly
— Jackie Spiegel (@jackiespiegel93) October 6, 2021
Gretzky has been more and more vocal over the years about how he believes Ovechkin could surpass his high-water mark of 894. In 2020, while doing an interview with Sportsnet, Gretzky said Ovechkin has a “legitimate chance” of doing so.
“I think that it is great for hockey,” Gretzky said. “I was teasing my kids the other day, I said the funny thing about it is, if you talk to hockey people, nobody would actually say, ‘Well, Wayne Gretzky was a good goal scorer.’ They always put me in, he’s a passer, he’s a playmaker. This is giving me a little bit of attention that I am not used to.”
Gretzky promised that he would be in the arena to root Ovechkin on if he ever approached the record.
“I think it’s great, and if he does get there, and if he does break my record, I said I would be the first guy there to shake his hand,” Gretzky said. “I remember when Gordie was following me around and I was breaking his record, I said to my Dad one night, I said, ‘You know in some ways I feel kind of bad for Gordie Howe.’ And my dad said, ‘You know what, somebody is going to break your record. And when he does, make sure you are as much a gentleman to him as Gordie Howe is to you. You smile, you shake his hand, and you are proud of what you accomplished. It’s better for the game.’ That is what I always think of. I always think of Gordie Howe and what my dad told me.”
The two superstars from different eras have become friends over the years. Ovechkin and his wife Nastya had dinner with the Gretzkys during a West Coast trip in 2016.
Gretzky said Ovi was obsessed with two things during that dinner.
“The thing that I found so fascinating about Alex wasn’t so much about individualism, scoring goals, or becoming a better player,” Gretzky said. “The whole night there was questions about what can I do or what do I need to do as captain to help get our team over the hump? What can I do to help contribute to winning the Stanley Cup for the Washington Capitals and the city of Washington? I remember leaving there thinking, ‘Wow, this is so unique.’ We could have talked about anything: goals, assists, games, memories. And really Alex, the only thing he had on his mind was ‘I have to bring a Stanley Cup to the city of Washington.’ For me, that was one of the great parts of the whole evening, and I knew then and there, leaving the restaurant that one day he going to lift the Stanley Cup.”
The other thing Ovi longed for was one of Gretzky’s game-used sticks that he could add to his memorabilia collection. Gretzky said he would give him one if Ovechkin won the Stanley Cup. Ovi did so in 2018 and Gretzky gave away the stick he scored his 807th career goal with.
“Finally, I get the stick and I was happy like a little kid to have a Christmas gift,” Ovechkin said.
Later that night, Ovechkin scored against the Canadiens because of course he did.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.