The Great Gretzky Says Goodbye
After 20 seasons in the NHL, the greatest player ever to lace up a pair of hockey skates has retired. Wayne Gretzky said goodbye to the NHL on Sunday, and he leaves with an incomprehensible 61 NHL records.
He doesn't just hold most of these records; he's so far ahead of the nearest contenders that he has rendered them virtually untouchable.
- At a time when a 100-point season was the mark of a superstar, Gretzky was getting 200.
- In the 1985-86 season, Gretzky dished out a record 163 assists. Mario Lemieux is the only other player to even register 163 points in one year.
- This year, no player scored 50 goals. In 1981-82, Gretzky scored his 50th in the 39th game of the 80-game season. He went on to score 92 that year.
- Three players in the history of the NHL have recorded over 100 assists in one season. Lemieux did it once, Bobby Orr did it once, and Gretzky did it — eleven times.
Get the picture? He was good. The Hockey Hall of Fame will assuredly vote to waive the mandatory three-year waiting period before inducting him. And the NHL did them one better, retiring Gretzky's Number 99.
Just like his playing, it seemed that every move he made at Madison Square Garden on Sunday was the right one. He said all the right things, paid respect to the right people, and as usual, deflected all praise onto others. He spoke when he should have, bowed when he should have, and cried when he should have. And the league can only hope that somehow he'll remain involved.