While the players listed here are phenomenal and have evolved the way the game of hockey is played, none of these guys are looked at the same way as Wayne Gretzky. When you hear the name Alex Ovechkin, you think of his goal-scoring ability. Sidney Crosby, The way he thinks the game miles ahead of his opponents. Pavel Bure, the Russian rocket, was known for his unreal speed. Dominik Hasek, his inhumane saves, is in the nightmares of his opponents because he robbed a sure goal.
So… just how good was Wayne Gretzky?
Ikea Must Have Loved Him
Art Ross Trophies:
Although Marcel Dionne won the award in 1979-80, Wayne Gretzky tied Dionne in points; it was determined that Dionne would take the hardware home as he finished the season with two more goals than Gretzky. Next season, though, Wayne Gretzky would flip the script.
At the end of the 1980-81 season, Wayne Gretzky made sure there would be no tie for points this year, as he would finish with 164 points in 80 games. In second place? Marcel Dionne, with 135 points. The trend of Gretzky winning the Art Ross would continue for quite some time, as he took home the trophy six straight times following the 80′-81 season. One of those seasons, 81′-82′, would mark the highest point total by a player in a single season in NHL history, as Wayne Gretzky finished with 215 points. Although the streak seemed unbreakable, Mario Lemieux would go on to snap The Great One’s streak of winning the Art Ross. As in the 88′-89 season, Super Mario would finish with 199 points and Gretzky with 168.
Wayne Gretzky would bounce right back next season, winning the title for the 8th time, but this time with the LA Kings. In the 89′-90 season, Gretzky would finish with 142 points, and trailing him would be former teammate Mark Messier with 129 points. Something to keep in mind is that although Lemieux finished with 126 points that season, he only played 59 games as the trend of Lemieux being injured, unfortunately, would follow for most of his career.
Wayne Gretzky would win two more Art Ross trophies in his career. One of them being in the 90′-91′ season, as he would win it with a whopping 163 points, and the final one being in 93′-94′, winning it with 130 points. He would finish his career having won 10 Art Ross trophies.
The Hart Memorial Trophy/Ted Lindsay Trophy:
Since the Hart and Ted Lindsay are very close to the same, they will be looked at in the same section.
As Wayne Gretzky showed his power to dominate the league in points, to no one’s surprise, this would reflect on the voter’s selection for the MVP award. Wayne Gretzky first won the award after his stellar performance in the previously talked about 79′-80 season. While the voters saw Gretzky as the winner by a decent margin in 79′-80′ and 80′-81′, it would be the 81′-82′ season where Wayne Gretzky would break yet another record. He would be the first player in NHL history to win the Hart trophy unanimously, getting 100% of the first place votes on the ballots (Mario Lemieux was very close to doing the same in 92′-93′, but there was one voter who didn’t put Lemieux first on his ballot. Instead, he put Pat Lafontaine.
After winning the Hart Trophy 3 straight times to 81′-82 season, the streak would start there for the Ted Lindsey as well, as he would win both trophies for five consecutive seasons.
Goals, Goals, Goals
As the hockey world has been keeping a close eye on the goal count for Alex Ovechkin, everyone is wondering if he will break it. Until he breaks it, though, it is just another record in which Wayne Gretzky’s dominance is shown through another stat, as he is currently the leader in most goals in NHL history with 894. Seeing as Gretzky is the leader for most goals in NHL history, one might ask why I never pointed out the amount of Maurice Richard trophies that Gretzky won. This may shock some people, but Wayne Gretzky never actually won the Maurice Richard trophy throughout his career, nor did Mike Bossy, Brett Hull, or any of the pure goal scorers from the 80s. This is because the Maurice Richard Trophy was never actually invented until the 1999 season. Before this trophy, there was no award for having the most goals in the NHL.
Although he never won any awards for it, it’s worth pointing out the insane goal totals that Wayne Gretzky put up in his era. Throughout his career, Gretzky put up the most goals out of any player in a single season 5 times, doing it four consecutive times in the first half of the 80s. The first time he did, it was the highest in his career and the highest total the NHL has seen in its history, as Gretzky finished the 81′-82 season with 92 goals. Unreal.
Showing Up When It Counts
During his NHL career, Wayne Gretzky won 4 Stanley Cups, winning everyone with the Edmonton Oilers. Although his first two go-arounds in the postseason were a bit rough, those being in the 79′-80 and 80′-81 postseasons, he would dominate for years to come after, starting in the 82′-83 postseason. In the 82′-83 postseason, Wayne Gretzky would average just over 2 PPG, as he put up 38 points in 16 games and helped the Oilers make it to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. Unfortunately, they would be swept by the hands of the New York Islanders, who would win their 4th straight Stanley Cup. Yet again, Wayne Gretzky would flip the script the following season(s).
The 83′-84 season marked the beginning of the Oilers’ dynasty dominance in the 80s. Making the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year, Gretzky and the Oilers were ready to make their mark on history. Through 19 games, Wayne Gretzky led the Oilers in playoff points through 19 games, where he would tally 35 points. Gretzky and the Oilers would win their first Stanley Cup, getting revenge on the Islanders by beating them in 5 games.
The following season, Gretzky and the Oilers got right back to work, as they would win their 2nd straight Stanley Cup, and Gretzky would put up a career-high in playoff points, tallying 47 points in 18 games. In the 85′-86 postseason, Gretzky scored 19 points in 10 games, and the Oilers would push for a 3rd straight cup but lose at the hands of their rivals in the Calgary Flames in 5 games. It would also mark the memory Oilers fans would wish to forget, as the series-winning goal for the Flames would be an own-goal by the Oilers’ Steve Smith, who banked the puck off the back of goaltender Grant Fuhr’s pads and into the net. Yet scarred by a terrible ending, the Oilers would bounce right back and win their 3rd cup in 4 years, defeating the Flyers for the second time in the finals. Gretzky would post another strong postseason performance, earning 34 points in 21 games. Gretzky would get his final Stanley Cup next season, as the Oilers defeated the Boston Bruins in 5 games, and Wayne Gretzky tallied a spectacular 43 points in 19 games.
Although this 87′-88 marked the final season where Gretzky won the cup and ended his time in Edmonton, his strong playoff performances would continue. Gretzky would go on to play 60 postseason games with the LA Kings, where he tallied 29 goals and 94 points. Gretzky would join St. Louis for one postseason run, where he played 13 games and finished with 16 points. Gretzky’s final postseason appearance would be in the 96′-97 season, where he would finish with ten goals and 20 points.
All In All
Wayne Gretzky has an insane number of accolades, with the number of records he’s broken, to cups he’s won, gold medals he’s won, and so on. The Great One has that nickname for a reason. He truly is the greatest player of all time. I don’t even mention how he is the only player to have 2000+ points (2857), as Jaromir Jagr is 2nd to him with 1921 points. Fun fact, Gretzky is closer to 3000 career points than anyone, except Jaromir Jagr and Mark Messier (1887 points), is to 2000 career points. What he did during his career will most likely never be replicated; he was something extraordinary.