Gretzky Hits 50

Gretzky hits 50. It may not be a new headline for a player that scored 50 points most seasons in his career but this is time it has taken #99 a bit longer to hit the half century. That is because this time it is 50 years. The ‘great one’ hits the big five 0 this week along with fellow Oiler, Ranger and Team Canada team-mate Mark Messier.

As it is Gretzky’s birthday this week. I though I would take a look at the career of a remarkable player. A glance through the 61 NHL records that Gretzky holds tells you that this player is special. But for me there is one thing that stands out about Gretzky and that all his points and records are shared amongst 4 teams. Showing that whilst ice hockey is a team sport one player can make a massive difference.

There is two stats when shown side by side-show this more than any other. If you look at each seasons assist leader and goal leader you can see a remarkable difference. Whilst Wayne Gretzky is a constant in the assist column the scorer varies.

    assists         goals  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 86 1979-80   Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings 53  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 109 1980-81   Mike Bossy New York Islanders 68  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 120 1981-82   Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 92  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 125 1982-83   Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 71  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 118 1983-84   Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 87  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 135 1984-85   Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 73  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 163 1985-86   Jari Kurri Edmonton Oilers 68  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 121 1986-87   Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 62  
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 109 1987-88   Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins 70  
Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 114 1988-89   Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins 85  
Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 102 1989-90   Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings 62  
Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 122 1990-91   Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 86  
Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 90 1991-92   Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 70  
Wayne Gretzky Los Angeles Kings 92 1993-94   Pavel Bure Vancouver Canucks 60  

 To put this into perspective. The player with next highest number of season leading the NHL in assists in Bobby Orr with 5 seasons. Apart from the fact that this number is than half of Gretzky’s number of seasons at the top bare in mind Phil Esposito was the league’s leading goal score in each of those seasons.

Take for example the 1986 season. Jari Kurri scored 68 times whilst Wayne Gretzky recorded 163 assists. Even if Gretzky assisted on every Kurri goal there were still 95 other goals scored ultimately from a Gretzky pass.

Point is this whilst great lines make great teams it takes some one very special to be at the top of the sport on his own and that is why he his greatest player of all time.

Although Gretzky’s time in the NHL has passed on the ice at least the other big news is that another great Peter Forsberg is once again skating with the Colorado Avalanche but is just seeing where it goes.


Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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