Wayne Gretzky hopes that Alex Ovechkin breaks his goals record one day
Wayne Gretzky truly believes in the idea that "records are made to be broken," so much so that he's actively rooting for Alex Ovechkin to break his all-time goal scoring record. Rather than get crotchety when asked to make comparisons with modern players, as veterans in all sports like to do from time to time, Gretzky expressed his admiration for Ovechkin's talent and applauded where he's gotten so far in his 15 NHL seasons.
"What I accomplished, I'm very proud of," Gretzky told NHL.com on Friday. "It's hard to do what I did, and it's really hard to do what he's doing now. But there's no question in my mind that he has a real legitimate chance of doing it. The two things that you need; you've got to stay healthy, and he's proven that over his career. He plays hard and he stays healthy. And, secondly, you've got to be on a good team — and he plays on a good team."
The Capitals left wing currently sits at 692 NHL goals in his career, tied for ninth in league history with Steve Yzerman. He still has 202 goals left to score before tying The Great One, but even if he doesn't reach that mountaintop, the names he'll pass along the way are impressive in their own right. Ovechkin is two goals behind Mark Messier, and eight away from becoming the eighth player in NHL history to score 700 goals, joining Mike Gartner (708), Phil Esposito (717), Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741), Jaromir Jagr (766), Gordie Howe (801), and, of course, Gretzky (894).
But Gretzky hopes the Washington captain gets there, if for nothing else but to follow Ovechkin around from city to city as he gets closer to the record like he's going on tour or something.
"I said I hope (Capitals owner Ted Leonsis) realizes that when I was chasing Gordie's record, Gordie and Colleen got to fly on the team plane," he said. "I hope I get invited to fly on the team plane because I would love to be at the game."
Back when Gretzky was chasing Howe's then-all-time goals record, the former Red Wing and his wife followed the Kings around until March 23, 1994, when goal No. 802 was scored against the Vancouver Canucks.
Ovechkin is currently on pace to finish with 56 goals this season, which would be the ninth time he's ended a year with 50 or more goals, a feat that only Gretzky and Mike Bossy have accomplished in the history of the league. The Caps are sitting on top of the league with 71 points and a 33-11-5 record through 49 games this season.