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Can Wayne’s Records Be Reached?

from John Kreiser of NHL.com,

Twenty-three years ago today, the NHL was rocked by the biggest trade in hockey history. The Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky, the centerpiece of a dynasty that had just won the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in five years, to the Los Angeles Kings for young talent, draft picks—and $15 million.

Gretzky had already shredded numerous NHL scoring marks, including goals and points in a season, while helping the Oilers pile up goals in a way the League had never seen. The deal pumped life into the Kings, a franchise that had always struggled for attention in Los Angeles, while stunning Edmonton and the rest of Canada.

Gretzky went on to play 11 seasons after the trade before retiring in 1998-99 after three seasons with the New York Rangers. He left the NHL with more than 60 records to his credit.

In honor of the 23rd anniversary of the trade that stunned hockey, here’s a look at 23 of those records that figure to be all but unbreakable.

Most career points: 2,857
Consider this: The last player to have more than 140 points in one season was Mario Lemieux, who put up 160 in 1995-96. Twenty seasons of averaging 140 points wouldn’t be enough to catch Gretzky’s career record.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: wayne+gretzky

Comments

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Wayne’s records won’t be touched unless—and here’s the caveat—something drasticically changes the landscape of the game.  As it stands now, the players are too big, too fast and too strong, with advanced goaltending techniques that did not exist in the ‘80s (when the goalies largely stood up and flailed away in the crease like they were on roller skates). Furthermore, more teams than ever play a defensive-oriented game, as a team that knows it has a shortage of talent has a far better chance of winning a 2-1 game than it does outscoring a superior team. Plus, the padding worn by the players now is comically large, to the point that goalies look like cartoon characters.

All of this could change if you limited goaltender equipment (drastically) or gave the offense more to shoot at (bigger nets) or went permanently to 4-on-4 hockey… something like that.

But as it stands now, no one is touching those records. Too much has changed since Wayne played.

Posted by Eric H. on 08/09/11 at 01:35 PM ET

UMFan's avatar

I think some of his career records are more reachable for someone coming into the league now than they were 10-15 years ago. More and more players are now entering the league at 18-19 years old and are having more of an impact right now. Players are also playing better into their late 30’s and sometimes into their early 40’s. With medical advances and slight changes that the league might install to cut down injuries, it is possible. Granted, it would have to be one hell of a run both individually and team based. I just hope I get to see someone like that again.

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 08/09/11 at 02:57 PM ET

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There’s too many factors that made it easier for him to put up those point totals that a player today doesn’t have. Just goalies, by themselves, take up about double the real-estate that they used to. Opposition forwards didn’t backcheck like they do now (if you can find a pbp guy using the term ‘back-pressure’ before 1997, I’d be surprised), nobody other than Craig Muni blocked shots because their leg would break, there wasn’t the same, ubiquitous, video review process (and make no mistake—video review is more useful in stifling offensive creativity than fostering it) to break down -why- a player like Gretzky was successful and come up with counter-strategies.

Sure, today, a player like Gretzky (if there is one; hard to judge, Gretzky’s strength was his brain, which isn’t as obvious an asset to the eye as, say, Coffee or Graber’s wheels) would be more physically fit than he was in 80, but so would everybody else. His shot would be harder, but he’d be threading the needle through two defenders and a michelin man, rather than picking a corner against a guy in 80s goal gear.

This isn’t to marginalize what Gretzky did, but I’m not even certain an hypothetical ‘next great forward’ could even see 215 legit scoring chances per year no matter what his skill set, so, even converting at 100%, I don’t know if Gretz’s 6 year span of 180 pt seasons would be repeatable unless the netmouths were, like, doubled in square footage and shotblocking banned.

One thing I do think, though, is that, even though 199 points would never happen, this guy would still be a perrennial Art Ross favorite, if he was 19 again, playing with a wood blade, changing nothing at all about his game.

Posted by steviesteve on 08/09/11 at 04:07 PM ET

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Nope.

Posted by godblender on 08/09/11 at 04:37 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

To me it’s not so much to total of his numbers. It’s the margin of which he bettered his comtemporaries. He could have won or tied for the league lead in points with just his assists totals alone in four seasons. And he still scored 50 goals in all 4 of those seasons. In fact, he also led the league in goals in 3 of those seasons.
His real brillance was in his playmaking. He tallied 100 or more asists in a single seson 11 straight times. Nobody else has more than 6 consecutive seasons with 100 or more points. In fact, the 11 consecutive seasons of 100 or more assists is a higher total than any other player has seasons with 100 or more points. (10-Lemieux). To put a finer point on this - just look at how many times a player has amassed 100 or more assists in a season in NHL history. It has happened only 13 times. Gretzky with 11 straight, then you have Lemieux & Orr with once each. Simply amazing.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 08/09/11 at 05:46 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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