After years of debate, it appears that Wayne Gretzky’s record is safe. Alex Ovechkin has not been able to break the record in his 16 years in the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin has scored a lot of goals in his career, but can he still break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goal record?
Alex Ovechkin would rather not discuss his goal-scoring record in the NHL, which he shares with Wayne Gretzky.
He loves talking about his vehicles, especially his G-wagons and Bentley coupes. Alternatively, the finest high-end sushi restaurants on the road. He’ll gladly talk about fashion with you: “Dolce, Dolce, Dolce,” he remarked during an interview, listing his shirt, trousers, and shoes.
The Gretzky record, on the other hand…
“To be honest, I’m not even thinking about it right now. It’s a long journey. And it’s a difficult path to take. Whatever occurs, occurs “ESPN quoted the Washington Capitals forward as saying. “You sit in front of the television. You tune on to the radio station. You converse with your pals. Conversations bring up many topics. But, really, it’s a long way off.”
It’s not that far away, after all. In 1,197 games, Ovechkin has 730 goals. Before retiring in 1999, Gretzky had 894 goals in 1,487 games.
“He’s in range,” said Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who was once Ovechkin’s archrival but is now part of a mutual appreciation pact as the NHL’s older superstars.
Crosby and Ovechkin last saw each other during the players’ preseason media tour in Chicago.
“I told him I hoped he would do it. I’m hoping he’ll get it. It would be fantastic, “Crosby said. “I just hope that every goal he scores while attempting to [break it] is against a different side.”
Another believer is Mark Messier, who saw Gretzky score the bulk of his goals when they were teammates on the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s.
“He certainly has a shot. If he succeeds, it would be a tremendous achievement “he said “Having signed that contract, he obviously intends to breach it.”
In the summer, Ovechkin signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract deal with the Capitals. “I spent my whole NHL career in Washington, D.C. It’s like a second home to me. I may be able to finish my career at the same spot where it began “he said
Ovechkin has accomplished everything a player in the NHL could aspire for in a career. As league MVP, he has earned three Hart awards. In 2005-06, he was named Rookie of the Year. He’s won one scoring championship and nine times led the league in goals. In 2018, he eventually won the Stanley Cup, earning postseason MVP accolades before a cathartic, hazy, weeks-long celebration that saw him creating snow angels in a public fountain in Washington, D.C.
Ovechkin’s chase of Gretzky’s record motivates him, according to Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, in a way that other players in his position may not have at Ovechkin’s age.
“He now exudes a new kind of vitality. He had a wonderful time with the Cup. However, I feel a connection with him. He’s pumped to show what he’s capable of. He’ll try his best no matter what happens “According to MacLellan.
Will his best, though, be enough to beat Gretzky? Given how quickly time is running out — and how much of Ovechkin’s time has already been taken?
The current state of affairs
It was the 5th of October, 2005. The Columbus Blue Jackets were playing the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin scored his first NHL goal at 7:21 of the second period. Just 4:30 later, he’d score his second goal. Jeff Halpern, the team’s captain and a sixth-year NHL player, assisted on both goals.
“That was a very quiet period in Washington. The crowds would come and go, with weekends being the best, and particular rivals being the worst. Because it was so lifeless, the joke was that we should put the black curtain up over the empty seats in the upper deck “Halpern, who is currently an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, stated as much. “However, you began to notice that whenever Ovi touched the puck, the whole building began to vibrate. It was obvious straight away. Years later, he still has that vitality in the building.”
After his debut, he added a couple more goals to his tally, and he now has 730 for his career, putting him within striking distance of Gretzky’s 894.
If Ovechkin maintains his career average of 0.61 goals per game, he’ll need 271 games to catch Gretzky and score another 165 goals. He’d beat the record during the 2024-25 season, the fourth year of his new deal, if he maintained this pace.
But let’s suppose Ovechkin’s goals-per-game average drops as he approaches retirement. If he averages 0.50 goals per game, he’ll need 330 games to beat the record, which he did last season with 0.53 goals per game. That would be the 2025-2026 season, which is the last year of his current deal.
If that average fell even lower to 0.40 goals per game — which would still have put him in the top 30 goal scorers last season — it would take Ovechkin 413 games to break the record, which he would do somewhere in the 2026-27 season, when he would be 41 and his current contract would be over.
Of course, that isn’t the plan.
“I’m not sure whether he says it, but he wants a five-year term for a reason, don’t you know?” With a chuckle, MacLellan remarked.
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During the past two pandemic-affected seasons, Ovechkin has lost 51 games. Ovechkin would add nine more goals to his total if he scored at his 2019-20 goals per game average of 0.71 in the 14 games he missed when the regular season was halted in March. If the 2020-21 season was 82 games long and Ovechkin had played the 37 games he was denied, he would have added 19 goals to his total, assuming a 0.53 goals-per-game average.
What if Alex Ovechkin’s goal total was increased by 100?
What if he just required 65 instead of 165?
“You can’t even consider the arithmetic on that,” Halpern said. “Gretzky’s recordings were from a different period. The ‘Dead Puck Era’ was the 1990s. All of the goals had been scored. Anyone could not have gotten close to shattering it today, in my opinion.”
He mentioned Ovechkin in particular. Halpern didn’t think he’d be able to come this close because of the way he plays.
“Because he was a football player, I would have expected Ovi to hit a brick wall at some time. And when you see a football player in his 30s, like seeing Jerome Bettis attempt to go down the stairs first thing in the morning? At this time, I assumed it was Ovi, since he went through people for 82 games a year “Halpern said.
“Well, he definitely proved me wrong.”
‘Russian Machine’ is a term used to describe a group of people who
Steven Stamkos, despite being one of his generation’s best goal scorers, never imagined he’d be able to match Gretzky’s record.
But a man may fantasize.
“I remember scoring my 200th goal, and Tampa was giving out T-shirts proclaiming that I was the fourth-youngest player to reach 200 goals. That was the first time I’d seen my name beside Gretzky’s “Stamkos, who is in his 14th season with the Lightning, stated as much. “There have been moments when I’ve considered how much closer I would have been to Ovechkin’s statistics if I could have remained healthy — particularly during those peak, golden years of my career. However, it is what it is.”
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For a while, it seemed that Stamkos might be the guy to challenge Ovechkin for goal-scoring dominance in their generation. Stamkos is second in goals-per-game average among players who have made at least 500 games since Ovechkin’s debut season (0.52).
The issue is that Ovechkin has 730 goals in 1,197 games, while Stamkos has 439 goals in just 841 games.
“We all know he’s by far the greatest goal scorer of our age. He’s appeared in a lot of games and scored a lot of goals. If he can keep it up, I believe he has a chance. It’ll be a challenge. But I wouldn’t rule anything out “According to Stamkos.
“The thing that most strikes me is his perseverance. I believe I’m just envious of it.”
The endurance of Ovechkin, summed up by the phrase “Russian Machine Never Breaks,” is an indisputable aspect of his goal-scoring prowess. He’s completed five full seasons. In 12 of his 16 seasons, he has missed three or fewer games. Only four players have featured in more games than Ovechkin since his arrival in the NHL in 2005.
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Stamkos can vouch for this. As when he fell into a goal post in Boston in 2013, breaking his tibia and missing 45 games.
“That’s why I’ve respected Ovi for a long time. He’s able to be out there a lot because of his ability to be out there a lot “According to Stamkos.
Instead of being remembered as the best goal scorer of his age, Stamkos may be remembered as the greatest “what if?” To put it in 1980s terms, Ovechkin is the Mike Bossy to Gretzky’s Ovechkin.
“Every athlete’s career is littered with “what ifs.” It everything worked out, and all you can say now is that you’re grateful for the chance. However, there are moments when you sit and wonder, “Where would I be if I hadn’t had that injury?” Is it possible that I’ll be above 500 goals right now?’ But, well, that’s life.” According to Stamkos.
What the stars have to say
Stamkos believes Ovechkin has the ability to catch Gretzky. He replied, “I believe he’s got as good a shot as anybody.” “Things’s a strange way of looking at it.”
The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon hopes Ovechkin keeps up his scoring pace.
“Having that excitement throughout the league would be fantastic for the game,” he added. “At the very least, I hope he comes near.”
Is it getting close? When it came to the sanctity of a Gretzky record, was there any Canadian patriotism on display?
He laughed and replied, “Oh, no.” “Ovi is one of my favorite characters. And I’m certain he’ll be able to accomplish it.”
Since Ovechkin’s entry into the NHL, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks has scored the seventh-most goals (404). When asked whether Ovechkin can still break the record, he expresses his skepticism by sighing.
“I’d say yes if I had to choose. But I just think his shooting is so fantastic, and he’s surrounded by excellent playmakers who can bring him the puck. He’s also still lethal on the power play. I believe he will do the task “Kane said.
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The Blackhawks’ star is known for his versatility when it comes to scoring. On the bulk of his goals, Ovechkin’s approach is more predictable.
“Isn’t it true that he has his own place over there? Off to the left of that circle. Nobody’s come up with a method to stop him yet, and he’s only been in the league for how long?” Kane remarked. “It doesn’t seem like anybody is going to start stopping him right now.”
Especially when Ovechkin continues firing away. Ovechkin’s shot creation has characterized him throughout his career, along with his endurance. Since his NHL debut in 2005-06, he has 5,727 shots on goal. Eric Staal, who has played in 15 more games than Ovechkin but has generated 1,956 less shots on goal, is the second greatest shot generator in his career.
“It is dependent on your situation. ‘I shouldn’t take the shot,’ you may think at times “Ovechkin said.
But he simply shoots in such times. Goaltenders, he claims, are trained to wait for an offensive player to take a breath, settle the ball on a pass, and then fire.
“Shooting is something I like doing. I’ll shoot the puck if I have the opportunity “he said
The opposition has yet to find out how to block Alex Ovechkin’s shot. Will this pattern reverse in the following five seasons? Getty Images/NHLI/Patrick McDermott
That, according to Crosby, is what makes Ovechkin’s chase of Gretzky conceivable. On breakaways, he doesn’t depend on speed or creative maneuvers to score. He’s a big fan of that shot.
Crosby remarked, “The man can score from anywhere within the blue line.”
Perhaps in his latter years, Ovechkin will just stand in front of the goal and let the pucks bounce in. Or something. Become the next Patric Hornqvist.
Crosby chuckles, a knowing grin on his face. “It makes no difference how you grade them. All you have to do is score them.”
When the two were on the Penguins, Crosby would feed Hornqvist, and Ovechkin has had his fair share of assists.
“He’ll have to figure out where he’ll fire from. Which is why it’s crucial for [Ovechkin] to know who he’ll be playing with. You’ll need a playmaking center that is both imaginative and supportive of him. If you didn’t have the man, he’d be waiting for the puck the whole game “According to MacClellan.
“Nick Backstrom and [Evgeny Kuznetsov], fortunately for him, understand him, know where he’ll be, and locate him. It’s a great fit for Nick: he like to pass, Ovechkin prefers to shoot, and he knows how [Ovechkin] plays. He’ll go about his business without looking “Added the GM.
Halpern has previously served as Ovechkin’s linemate.
In a nutshell,
‘I’m not going to play with this man.’
Halpern recalls seeing Ovechkin play at the IIHF World Championships in 2004, knowing that he would be the Capitals’ franchise player. “He had a few of huge hits,” he recalled, “but it wasn’t like I was watching Mike Modano or Joe Sakic or the goal-scorers I admired while I was watching him skate.”
Then, in 2005, they met for the first time as teammates. “He was dressed in a pair of cropped jeans. He wore a shirt that was much too tight “Halpern remembered something. “I recall him scoring against the Philadelphia Flyers during a preseason game and then winking at their bench as he went past. And we’re all thinking to ourselves, “This kid is going to beat us up.””
Halpern recalled Ovechkin offering him and center Dainius Zubrus some instructions before their first game together.
“On the power play, if he’s in the center, just get him the puck, he said. ‘I’m a huge man,’ he says in poor English. ‘I have the ability to shrug certain folks off.’ Back then, we had a lot of large defenders in the league. Derian Hatcher, for example, is one of these players. Ovi was a huge man, but he wasn’t one of them “According to Halpern. “We didn’t know how tough he was until that first game against Columbus, when he went through a defender and shattered the glass on his first shift. When he first began moving, he was a force to be reckoned with. With and without the puck, he was attempting to injure others.”
In his first two games of the season, Halpern scored four points. He got 16 points in his 23rd game. He got off the Ovechkin scoring train only a few weeks into the season.
“When I tell my kids and wife about it, they want to hit me. ‘I’m not going to play with this man,’ I told coach Glen Hanlon. He’s strewn over the ice. I have no idea where he is, and it’s not how I like to play.’ Chris Clark was on that line with Ovechkin the following game, while I was on the line with Brian Willsie and Matt Pettinger. Two great players and people — who aren’t Alex Ovechkin. So it was a blunder.”
Jeff Halpern scored 373 points in 976 NHL games, a number that might have been greater if he had remained on a line with Alex Ovechkin. Getty Images/Mitchell Layton
Alex Ovechkin, like Wayne Gretzky, is a one-of-a-kind player. Legendary standards are saved for exceptional individuals. When those records are shattered, it transcends the sport and becomes a worldwide event, from North American rinks to the streets of Moscow, where Ovechkin grew up.
“It’s going to be huge, in my opinion. I believe it will be huge all around the world, not only at home “According to Ovechkin.
He notices that he is planning too far ahead. Ovechkin lowers his hands many times in a repetitive motion, as if he’s soothing the expectations of the whole hockey world, including his own.
“But, really, we’ll have to wait.”
ESPN Stats & Information’s Bryan Beasley contributed additional research.
Alexander Ovechkin is still a force to be reckoned with. He broke Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894 career goals in the 2018-19 season. Reference: alexander ovechkin.
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