In every professional sport, there is always at least one athlete who is considered to be the best. In golf, you can argue between Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, in tennis, you can say Pete Sampras or Roger Federer, in baseball you can say Babe Ruth or Pete Rose, and in football you can argue between any number of quarterbacks and wide receivers like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Jerry Rice. There are only two professional sports though, in which it is abundantly clear who the definitive best player is, with the first being Michael Jordan who was absolutely dominant in his time in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, and the other being Wayne Gretzky who is by far the most skilled player to ever skate in an NHL rink.
Gretzky began his NHL career when the Edmonton Oilers joined the league in the 1979-80 season, and from the very beginning he was a bona fide superstar. In all, he would spend nine years with the Oilers, where he helped to lead the team to four Stanley Cup Championships, but in 1988, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where he would spend the next eight seasons. This trade was devastating for Oilers’ fans, but it helped to greatly popularize the game of hockey in the United States, especially in California. He would go on to finish his career with St. Louis and the New York Rangers, a career that ultimately spanned 20 seasons, and which saw him set numerous records that still stand today; records that no other player will likely ever be able to beat. Here is a list of 15 of Wayne Gretzky’s most unbeatable records.
15 Most Career Assists - 1,963
In hockey, the only way for a player to receive an assist, is by being one of the two main contributors in the play which led to the goal, and as renowned as Wayne Gretzky is for his ability to score goals, he was even better at setting them up. In his 20 seasons as an NHL player, Gretzky amassed exactly 1,963 assists, which is the most scored by any player in league history, and that is a number that has a very good chance of not being beaten for a very long time. The reason for this is simple, Gretzky has over 700 more assists than Ron Francis who has the second most all time, and because there are only two currently active players who are in the top 15 all time in terms of assists, and those would be Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton. Both of those players will go down as two of the best playmakers in NHL history, and even though they are technically the closest to his record, Gretzky still has over 800 and 900 more assists than them respectively.
14 Consecutive MVP Awards - 8
At the end of each and every NHL season, individuals belonging to the Professional Hockey Member’s Association vote for the player they believe to be the most valuable during the regular season. The MVP award, otherwise known as the Hart Memorial Trophy, has been given to 54 different players over the span of 90 seasons, and in his career, Wayne Gretzky was named the league’s MVP a total of nine times, with eight of those awards coming in consecutive seasons. In every year between 1979 and 1987, there was no doubt that Gretzky was the most valuable player for the Edmonton Oilers as well as the entire league, and he likely would have been named MVP ten consecutive years if it were not for the season Mario Lemieux had in 1987-88. It is true that the NHL has produced several star players over the last decade who have gone on to win the MVP award, but in those ten years, only Alexander Ovechkin has won it consecutively, and that was only two straight years. If players like him and Sidney Crosby are unable to challenge this record, it is likely no one will.
13 Most Consecutive 100-point Seasons - 13
Last season, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane led the entire NHL in points with 106, which in today’s game is considered to be an amazing feat because of the fact that so few players are now able to pass the 100 point mark due to the defensive focus by teams and goalies being better with larger equipment. In the years in which Gretzky played, it was normal to see multiple players score over 100 points in a season, and some of these players, including Gretzky himself, were able to do it over consecutive seasons. In all, Gretzky managed to score 100 or more points in 13 straight seasons, something that will likely never happen again, considering that in just the last five years alone, only three players have had 100 point seasons, none of whom were able to do so consecutively. To put it into context just how unreachable this record might be, only the legendary Bobby Orr is in reach of it, and he only had 6 consecutive 100-point seasons.
12 Fewest Games Needed To Reach 1,000 Points - 424
Probably the most coveted milestone a player can reach in hockey is the 1,000 point milestone, and the reason why it is so coveted, is the same reason why 3,000 hits is such a huge accomplishment in baseball: because it means that you have likely had a lengthy and Hall of Fame worthy career. In hockey, it usually takes great players close to 1,000 games to reach the 1,000 point mark, but there are exceptions where certain players are able to do it in far less time. Wayne Gretzky was able to reach the 1,000 point mark in only 424 games, which to this day is still the quickest any player has ever reached the milestone. Mario Lemieux is the closest to Wayne’s number, as he reached the 1,000 point plateau in only 513 games, and if someone as great as Lemieux was more than 100 games behind Gretzky’s record, it is fair to say that probably no player will ever be able to replicate, let alone improve upon his record any time soon.
11 Most Consecutive Scoring Titles - 7
Like the Hart Trophy, The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to a player at the end of every season, except it is awarded to the player who finished the year with the most points during the regular season. Based on the huge offensive numbers Gretzky put up throughout his career, you would think that he would have won the award every single year, but he in fact won it a total of 10 times, which is a record in its own right; but seven of those trophies came in consecutive seasons. To put this achievement in perspective, Jaromir Jagr, Phil Esposito, and Gordie Howe are all second behind Gretzky in terms of consecutive Art Ross wins with four. He would have actually won 8 in a row had he not lost the scoring title to Marcel Dionne in 1979-80 where they both had 137 points, with Dionne winning only because he had scored two more goals.
10 Fewest Games Needed To Score 500 Goals - 575
Two entries ago, it was mentioned that reaching 1,000 points was the most coveted milestone that a player can reach in their career, but there is also another milestone that is almost as highly coveted and celebrated, and that would be reaching the 500 goal mark. In most cases, it can take a player anywhere between 900 and 1,300 games to reach 500 goals, but Gretzky managed to accomplish this in only 575 games, which statistically speaking means that he was averaging just under a goal a game. There are only three other players who have scored 500 goals in under 700 games: Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, and Brett Hull, all of whom were scoring machines, but who still finished at best 80 games behind Gretzky’s record pace. Based on how tough scoring is now, there is a good chance that no player will ever be able to score 500 goals in a shorter amount of time.
9 Most Playoff Games With Three or More Goals - 10
One of the best things to see when attending an NHL game, is when a player from either side scores a hat-trick. A hat-trick is used to describe it when an individual player manages to score three goals in a game, which is in fact a hard thing for a player to do, especially in today’s NHL. As hard as it is to get a hat-trick during the regular season, it is even harder for a player to get one during the postseason, because in the playoffs, teams are far more focused on defense, and the level of one-on-one pressure, and hitting, are mush greater. That being said though, there are players who have scored three or more goals in a single playoff game, and Wayne Gretzky did that in a record 10 playoff games. Maurice Richard and Jari Kurri were both Hall of Fame players, and even now, they are both still the closest to Gretzky’s record, having scored three or more goals in 7 playoff games.
8 Longest Point Streak - 51 Games
In every sport, one of the most intriguing things to keep track of is a player who has some form of streak going. The sports world is filled with some incredible streaks, like incredibly long team losing and winning streaks, but the highest regarded streaks in sports belong to individual players, like Joe Dimaggio and his 56 game hitting streak and Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive games. Those individuals though are baseball legends, and in regards to hockey, Wayne Gretzky has his own unbelievably long streak, one that a player could only break if he were incredibly lucky. The 1983-84 season saw the Edmonton Oilers win their first Stanley Cup largely thanks to Gretzky, who that year also scored 61 goals and 153 points, but what was truly remarkable was the fact that he went 51 straight games with recording at least one point. Such a streak is unheard of in the sport, and to this day, only Mario Lemieux and his 46 game point streak have come close to beating it.
7 Most Career Playoff Points - 382
As mentioned earlier, when the playoffs come around, scoring becomes a much harder thing to do because of teams needing to check more, and having to be more focused on defending; but with that being said, great scorers will still find ways to put up huge points during the postseason. In his career, Wayne Gretzky played in 208 playoff games, but what is truly astounding is the fact that he managed to score a total of 382 playoff points by the time his career was done. There are only four other players in NHL history who have scored more than 200 playoff points, and three of them happened to be playing with Gretzky on those championship winning Oilers’ teams, with Jaromir Jagr being the fourth. As of today, there are only four currently active players who can even be considered to be in the vicinity of Gretzky's record: Jagr, Marian Hossa, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin, but the problem is, he still currently has over 150 more points than Jagr and over 250 more playoff points than the others.
6 Most Consecutive 40-Goal Seasons - 12
In hockey, you win by scoring goals, and for some players, goal scoring comes much easier than it does for others, which is why many of the highest paid players in the NHL happen to be forwards who in their history have proven that they are capable of scoring at an above average level. Throughout the league’s history, there have been many players who have had 40-goal seasons, but only a few have been able to score that many goals in consecutive seasons. Alexander Ovechkin will go down as one of the best goal scorers the league has ever seen, as he has scored 40 or more goals eight times in ten years, but still, his consecutive streak lasted only five seasons. Mike Bossy is one of the league’s all-time best scorers, and he managed to have nine straight 40-goal seasons, but like many offensive categories, Wayne Gretzky holds this record as well, as he scored at least 40 goals for 12 consecutive seasons.
5 Most Points In A Single Season - 215
For hockey fans, the 1980s and 90s showcased some of the best players to ever play the game while they were all in their primes, and as a result, there were individuals who managed to put up some incredibly high and even insane numbers. When he was in his prime, Wayne Gretzky would finish a season with point totals that by today’s standards would probably see him earning well over 20 million a year. To this day, he is the only player to finish a season with at least 200 points, and he accomplished this four different times, including the 1985-86 season where he scored a record high 215 points. That was in a different era though, and now we are in an era where it is a lot tougher to score and get points, which is why the past few years, we have not seen that many NHL players finish the regular season with at least 100 points; and if players now are barely able to reach 100 points, what hope is there of someone any time soon scoring over 215.
4 Most Career Goals - 894
As mentioned earlier, reaching the 500 goal mark in the NHL, is one of the biggest accomplishments a player can achieve in their career, and the reason for that is because so few players have been able to score that many. As of now, only 43 players have scored 500 goals in the NHL throughout the league’s 100 year history, and even though that mark in it of itself is a huge achievement, there are players who are also part of even more exclusive goal scoring clubs, including 12 players who have scored 600 goals, and 5 who have scored 700. There are two players though who stand above all the rest in terms of goals scored, and they would be the late hockey legend Gordie Howe with 801 and Wayne Gretzky with a surreal 894. In terms of active players, there are only two who are even remotely close to Gretzky’s record, Jagr who has 749 goals, but who is close to retirement, and Ovechkin who is still 370 goals away from passing him.
3 Most Goals In A Single Season - 92
We can almost all agree that most hockey games that are high scoring affairs are the most entertaining, which is why the 1980s and 90s were so fun to be a part of, because that timeframe was filled with so many of the best players in NHL history, who were able to finish their respective seasons with extraordinarily high numbers. At the end of the 2007-08 season, people were in awe of Ovechkin finishing the season with 65 goals, and again in 2011-12 when Steven Stamkos netted 60, and the reason for that is because they are the only two who managed to do it in an almost two decade long span. In Gretzky’s day, and even earlier, there were many times in which a player scored 60 or more goals in a season, but he managed to do it 5 different times, including the 1981-82 season where he scored an incredible 92 goals. Scoring 50 Goals In 39 Games
2 Quickest To 50 Goals - 39 Games
In terms of unbeatable records, this one may be numbered second, but in reality you can consider it to be more like 1. because of how unlikely it is that another player will be able to beat it. In hockey, the term “50 in 50” refers to the act of a player scoring 50 goals in the first 50 games (or fewer) of their team’s season, and it is a feat that has been accomplished only eight times by five different players. The first two players to do this were Maurice “Rocket” Richard in 1944-45 and Mike Bossy in 1980-81, who both scored 50 in exactly 50 games. When it happened, people were very skeptical about anyone being able to score 50 goals in a shorter amount of time, but that skepticism quickly evaporated the very next year during the 1981-82 season, when Wayne Gretzky destroyed the record after he scored 50 goals in the first 39 games of the season. In today’s NHL, players who reach the 50 goal mark usually do so late into the season, which is why scoring that many in 38 games seems almost unattainable.
1 Most Career Points - 2,857
Based on how many offensive based records he holds, it should come as no surprise that Wayne Gretzky also holds the record for having scored more points in his career than any other player in NHL history. By the time his 20-year career was over, Gretzky scored a total of 2,857 points, which is such a huge number that Mark Messier, who is currently second on the all-time points list with 1,887 points, is a whopping 970 points behind his former Oilers’ teammate. Several times on this list, it was mentioned that it is a lot harder now to get points in the NHL because of better goalies and defensive mindsets, but even if that were not the case, and players scored with the same amount of frequency as they did decades ago, it is still unlikely that anyone would surpass Gretzky’s career point total. To get an idea of how daunting a task this is, even if a player were to score exactly 140 points for 20 straight seasons, they would still have less career points than "The Great One".