Wayne Gretzky no longer believes that Alex Ovechkin may break his goals record. Gretzky now believes it’s a foregone conclusion.
While speaking with NHL.com on Monday, Gretzky reacted to Ovechkin closing to within 88 of his record 894 career goals after a newsmaking December.
He was ecstatic about Ovechkin’s recent success.
“I think we’re past the point of if he’s going to do it,” Gretzky said while at Fenway Park for the Winter Classic. “We said a year ago that it’s a matter of when he’s going to do it. So, it’s great for the game. It’s a positive and I think that it couldn’t happen to a better person. He’s been great for our sport.”
Ovechkin made Gretzky even more of a believer after having one of the greatest months of his hockey career. Ovechkin scored 13 goals in 15 December games, including two hat tricks in a span of 18 days. During that span, Ovechkin reached the 800 goals milestone and passed Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s goals list. Ovechkin earned First Star of the Week honors twice and was named First Star of the Month. The 13 goals marked only the sixth time Ovechkin has had 13 or more goals in a month in his career.
Gretzky said he was impressed by how Gordie Howe’s sons, Mark and Marty, conducted themselves as the Russian superstar approached and then passed their dad on the goals list. The Howes went to several games, including the Capitals-Red Wings game on December 19. After the game, Ovechkin gave the brothers signed sticks and had them meet his sons Sergei and Ilya.
When Ovechkin finally passed their dad on December 23 in a game against the Winnipeg Jets, the Capitals stopped the game to play a touching video from Mark Howe.
Gretzky reiterated that he’d like to travel with the Capitals when Ovechkin approaches his 894th career goal as long as the team and the NHL is okay with it.
“That’s up to the League and to the Washington Capitals and what they want to do, but obviously Gordie was a great inspiration to me, and he was there when I was [breaking his records],” Gretzky said. “And I thought it was really classy of Mark and Marty to be following Alex when he was chasing Gordie. So, yeah, when it comes to the right time, I’m not going to go to every game now till 895, but when he gets close, obviously, I’d love to be there.”
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