Gretzky is the GOAT

I was 15 years old when Wayne Gretzky was sold/traded to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9th, 1988. It was also my grandmothers’ 72nd birthday. Grandma Kramps was a gem. I never forgot the day Gretzky was traded, but it was second to Grandmas birthday.

However, I do remember exactly where I was when I heard the trade went down. I was in Beaumont playing with my buddy Darren when we heard the news. There was no Internet, social media or cell phones. You couldn’t just pick up your phone to find out information. We were playing in a park, when some random father came up to his son and said, “Gretzky got traded.”

We raced back to Darren’s house (I’m pretty sure it was the only house with yellow stucco in Beaumont), and we sat down on the couch and watched in shock. Why would the Oilers trade the best player in the NHL? They’d just won their fourth Stanley Cup in May. They were the best team in the league and Gretzky was the leader.

It made no sense. It still doesn’t 30 years later.

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Here was the entire deal.

The Oilers traded Gretzky, Mike Krushelnyski, John Miner and Marty McSorley for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, Craig Redmond, three Kings’ first round picks — 1989 (later traded to Devils, who selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky) and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar) — and $15 million in cash.

A year later the Oilers traded Carson, Kevin McClelland and a fifth round pick to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Klima, Joe Murphy, Adam Graves and Jeff Sharples. Klima, Murphy and Graves played a big part in the Oilers winning the 1990 Stanley Cup.

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The Gretzky trade rocked the sporting world and word spread of his sale/trade like wild fire. My older brother was traveling in Switzerland at the time. He was on a train when he overheard some people discussing the trade. He didn’t believe them, but when he got off the train he found a paper, and in the Switzerland paper there was a story about the trade. That was on August 10th.

Only the Emmys didn’t think the trade was a big deal, I guess.

As time passes, I find some people have tried to downplay Gretzky’s greatness. They try to compare eras using statistics to compare previous generations to today’s game, and some younger hockey fans have been led to believe Gretzky wasn’t as good as his stats suggest. Don’t believe any of that BS. People can compare eras all they like, but just using data is very inaccurate. It doesn’t account for everything — equipment, training, nutrition, commercial flights and many other factors. The game isn’t the same, but for me, instead of trying to compare players from different eras, the best thing to do is compare players in their own era to each other.

Edmonton Oilers issue qualifying offers to Ethan Bear and William Lagesson

If a player dominated his peers the way Gretzky did, I don’t see how anyone can claim he wasn’t the greatest. Look at what he accomplished instead of looking at ways to demean his success.

On the 30th anniversary of his trade, here are some numbers to ponder.

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1. Gretzky scored 100+ EV points ten times in his career. When he entered the league in 1979/1980, only Guy Lafleur had achieved triple digits at EV. Lafleur had 104 EV points in 1977. In Gretzky’s rookie season he tallied 100 EV points. He proceeded to score 104, 147, 132, 135, 146, 143 and 124 EV points over the next seven seasons. In 1988, he played only 64 games and scored 91 EV points. In his first three seasons with the Kings he produced 100, 96 and 103 EV points.

2. Gretzky reached 100 EV points ten times. The only other players to do it; did it once each: Lafleur, Mario Lemieux (102 in 1989), Steve Yzerman (101 in 1989), Jari Kurri (101 in 1985) and Mike Bossy (100 in 1982).

3. In Gretzky’s first 12 NHL seasons he scored between 91-147 EV points every year. That is 12 of the top 23 EV point totals of all time. On top of the aforementioned five players to top-100 points, the others to reach 91 include Phil Esposito (99 in 1974 and 1971), Lemieux (96 in 1993), Lafleur (96 in 1978), Jaromir Jagr (95 in 1996), Ken Hodge (93 in 1971) and Marcel Dionne (91 in 1980).

4. A total of 10 players have scored 91 EV points in an NHL season, and Gretzky did it 12 times.

5. Gretzky’s best PP point total was 61 in 1994 with the Kings. That is tied for 10th best with Sidney Crosby (2007). He best PP total with the Oilers was 57 in 1982.

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6. He isn’t considered one of the greatest pure goal scorers, likely because he didn’t have a flashy one-timer or regularly overpowered goalies with his velocity, but he has the most goals in NHL history, 894, and some of the best single season totals as well. His 68 EV goals in 1982 are the most in NHL history. Brett Hull is second with 57. Gretzky scored 55 and 54 EV goals in 1984 and 1985 respectively, and the only other player to score 50 EV goals in the 1980s was Jari Kurri, who potted 54 in 1985.

7. In the history of the NHL, only ten times has a player scored 50 EV goals: the aforementioned top-five, along with Steve Shutt (52 in 1977), Teemu Selanne (52 in 1993), Reggie Leach (51 in 1976), Esposito (51 in 1974, and 50 in 1971). (On a side note, if you don’t have Esposito in the conversation of greatest goal scorers of all-time, that is a mistake. He and Gretzky combined for five of the ten EV 50-goal seasons).

Did the Oilers get better this off-season?

8. In the 1980s (ten years from 1980-1989), Gretzky scored 637-1200-1837. The other top-five scorers over a ten-year span during that time were Peter Stastny (385-674-1,059), Jari Kurri (474-569-1,043), Denis Savard (351-662-1,013) and Marcel Dionne (404-576-980). (Statsny, Kurri and Savard all debuted in 1981, so I added their 1990 total to make it equal ten years to Gretzky). Gretzky had more assists than any of the second to fifth best scorers had points. When you hear the statement, “It was easier to score in the 1980s,” as an argument against Gretzky’s totals, just bring up these stats. If it was so easy, how come Gretzky had 778 points more than the second highest scorer? You can take Mario Lemieux’s best ten seasons and they add up to 1,412 points. Still 425 less than Gretzky’s first ten years in the league.

9. Gretzky scored 2,857 points in his career. Jagr is second with 1,921, Mark Messier is third with 1,887, Gordie Howe is fourth with 1,850. Gretzky had more assists, 1,963, than any of them had total points.

10. In the history of the NHL, 29 players have averaged one point-per-game in the playoffs (minimum 50 NHL playoff games). Only two players have averaged more than 1.25 PPG. Gretzky averaged 1.83 PPG in the playoffs, scoring 382 points in 208 playoff games. Lemieux averaged 1.6 with 172 points in 107 games. Mark Messier is third at 1.25 PPG with 295 points in 236 games. Gretzky’s ability to dominate at the most crucial time was remarkable.

You can try to manipulate the numbers any way you like, but no one dominated his peers the way Gretzky did, then or now. I hope we see someone do it in the future, but until then, don’t be fooled by anyone suggesting Gretzky wasn’t as dominant because of the era he played in. I’d argue that as we look deeper into his numbers, we are realizing he dominated the opposition more than we even knew at the time. Those who watched him in his prime likely took his greatness for granted.

Thirty years later, it is still hard to fathom Gretzky was traded. I still remember sitting in shock on Darren’s couch. We were teenagers and didn’t comprehend why the trade happened. It was the first time I realized professional sports was a business, and the business of the NHL changed mightily that day.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • BobbyCanuck

    Yes, but could he drive a line? I would say no, because he never won anything after he left Edmonton, perhaps Kurri/Semenko/McSorley were the real reason he got so many points?

    Sorry, thanks to the last article, I just had to use an expired meaningless cleche

    • Redbird62

      I can find several fan polls and writer polls etc. that name Gretzky or Howe on top, so no it is not consensus. And given the complexity of the sport, what makes a player great is subjective and so too is who is the GOAT . I am similar to Jason in that I would pick who dominates their peers the most. Between Howe and Gretzky, Gretzky’s gap over the other stars during his prime, was greater than Howe’s was in any period over players like Richard, Beliveau, Hull etc. Howe’s peak however, was much longer than Wayne’s as he won his last Hart at 34 and was still a contender for the Hart at age 41, whereas Gretzky last won at 28 and stopped getting votes at 31. Choosing between Gretzky and Orr is much more difficult for me, since they played two different positions, plus Orr’s career got cut down in his prime. Clearly Orr towered over any other defenseman ever, but players like Clarke, Esposito and even Jean Ratelle were often beating Orr out for the Pearson and the Hart at the time (which I will concede was incredibly stupid of the voters in many of those cases). I am old enough to have seen all of Orr’s and Gretzky’s careers, but only a small portion of Howe’s. For me, I am willing to say GOAT 1A-Gretzky ; GOAT1B- Orr.

      • daryl

        Gretzky was the Great One but I was fortunate to have seen Orr play and he dominated his peers just as Gretzky did. What a loss for hockey when his knees gave out he could have played another 10 years but for that.

    • Oilerz4life

      There are other hockey greats, obviously, Orr, Howe, etc. etc. That’s a good debate that will never end.

      But, nobody comes anywhere close to having an impact on hockey the way Gretzky did. Without the Great One hockey would not have grown down through the States and all of that.

      Also, we can thank Walter Gretzky for teaching Wayne to think the game so well from a young age. He taught Wayne how to anticipate the play, which is what separated Gretzky from everybody else.

      Wayne Gretzky completely transformed the way the game was played and it is because of him the market expanded the way it did.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I worked in Edmonton from the early 80’s to August 1988. My company transferred me to Winnipeg.
      My belongings were already en-route to my new digs & I drove the rest.
      I remember wanting to get an early start, so I left Edmonton at around mid-night…
      I was listening to the radio on the way when it came over the news. I was in Biggar Sask.
      I don’t know, but I have to say that this news was bigger than that little place. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)
      That’s where I was, in & out of Edmonton in the same time-frame as the great one…
      I am so thankful to have lived in that great city. I hated it for the first 6 months, but once I got to meet some people & gain some friendships it’s become a big part of me to this day… More than anything, I didn’t ever think that a hockey team could have changed my loyal following of the team I cheered for before I moved there. You just couldn’t deny their greatness, & the greatness of that city. It’s one of my favourite places in Canada, bar- none.

  • ubermiguel

    Point #8 is key for comparing Gretzky across eras. Yeah, it was the high-flying 80s, but Gretzky still out-paced the next guy by almost 800 points that decade; he was winning Art Ross trophies by 70 or 80 points each year. Until Gretzky started to age a bit and Lemieux showed up there was simply no competition.

      • Nellzo

        It wasn’t that the league was weak. There were several strong teams. The Oilers rivalries were always with the top teams. CAL, WPG, PHI, NYI, MTL to mention a few. I will concede that the bulk of goalies weren’t exactly top notch vs todays goalies but there were a lot of damn good goalies. The reality is Gretzky saw the game very differently than most others. His approach to the game was equally different. Very special player in any era.

        • Serious Gord

          The league was very weak – lots of bad teams with horrible defence and goalies ( and owners and coaches…), no cap and teams starving of cash and no scouts – that PP sold WG for cash proves that.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            He, Sather & the Oilers as a whole, changed the game to what it has become…
            Rule changes have happened over the years to try to emulate the Oilers of the 80’s across the league.
            Things like doing away with the two line pass whistle, Gretz used to stand in a receiving position that made that happen. He was one of the first to park at the red line, or far blue line & wait.
            Others tried it, but no one was better at sneaking over there. Also, before gretz, there were never plays generated from behind the oppositions net. Now, they have moved the goal line to make Gretz type cycling easier. You hardly saw offensive zone cycling before Gretzky came into the league.
            The 80’s Oilers, changed the game to what we have now. It’s obvious if you remember how they played so differently than the rest of the league then.

  • McRaj

    This made me go look at McDavid’s even strength scoring and Wow, just wow. I wonder if McDavid can score 100 points at even strength. He wasn’t completely healthy this year and he hasn’t hit his peak yet, but he still had 84 EV points. Is it possible that playing with Nuge for the majority of the season, while being able to stay fully healthy, he can add 16 more EV points? I have a feeling that we could be in for a year not seen since 99 was on top of the stat sheets. Have read opinions and articles on how it would not shock anyone if McDavid hits 120. Could we potentially see McDavid get close to 140?

  • But yeah, kids these days don’t seem to understand that even when you normalize points from the players in the different eras, Gretzky was way above and beyond anyone. And I think if you took 1980s Gretkzy and played him in the NHL now, he’d dominate. Probably not as many points, but he’d… how does the cliche go?… oh yeah, “Find a way to win.”

  • Early to mid eighties was a very special time for Oilers fans. I should know, because I was one of them. The reason it was so special is Gretzky. It was the best, but only for Oilers fans, while the rest of the league suffered at the hands of one man. I don’t think history will repeat itself in that sense.

  • 18% body fat

    Pure goal scorer. What a stupid title, that just means they dont know how to pass the puck and cant get assists. Most cases the pure goal scorer only do what they do because of an elite play maker.

    Gretzky has the highest goal total in a season, destroyed the 50 in 50 record, and the most goals ever, all while being successful as a team. You can make arguments for Ovechkin, Bossy (gpg), howe, hull, espisito etc. cut all stats including the most important, cups! point to gretzky as the greatest scorer.

    Scoring goals when your team doesnt win, is not something to brag about. Yzerman, and Gretzky are two perfect examples that gave up some glory as they matured to evolve their game to best fit what the team needed to win. That is the mark of elite players, doing what it takes to win, and having the ability to adapt and be successful at any role.

  • Kuma

    But… but… “Era-adjusted points” and “It’s harder to score now” and “Points aren’t everything” and “He wasn’t the fastest skater” etc.

    • 18% body fat

      so dumb huh,

      are the goalies better today yes, however

      -there are more powerplays handed out today,
      -there was a lot more obstruction allowed back than
      -there is better nutrition today
      -there is better technology in the equipment
      -there is better medical knowledge
      -there is better luxuries to the players
      etc. the list goes on, gretzky would be even better if he had all this stuff too.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    The most important trade to happen for the Flames to be able to win a Cup.

    Otherwise they traded a HOF goal scorer for a depth dman and backup goalie and nothing else to show for it.

  • Abagofpucks

    When i heard the news i couldnt believe it. It ruined the rest of my summer and all i could think was how i wanted pocklingtons head on a stick. And i still do he’s an awful little troll.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Gretzky, Semenko, BJ MacDonald, Brett Callagen, Eddie Mio. Lost the Avco Cup to the Winnipeg Jets.
    After that game, Glen Sather built the NHL Oilers around the speed/skill/passing European style the Jets played.
    The rest is History.

    • Tooleybuc

      For me, Gretzky has always been the greatest. Those numbers are staggering. The other player I would compare him to is Bobby Orr – who also put up some equally staggering numbers. It’s hard to believe that the Oilers didn’t win the cup in 1986. That is EASILY the greatest team ever to not win the cup. Gretzky & Messier, Kurri & Coffey, Fuhr… all in their prime… and they somehow managed to lose.

      • Redbird62

        The 1970-71 Bruins set the record for points in season, goals in a season (outscoring the next highest team by 108 goals) and had 7 of the top 10 scorers including Orr, Esposito, Bucyk, Hodge and Cashman. That Bruins team may not be an all time great team, but their gap over the rest of the league that season was greater than the Oilers dominance, yet they still lost. Detroit in 95-96 finished 27 points ahead of Colorado who had the second most points in the league, and boasted, Yzerman, Federov, Coffey, Lidstrom, Larionov, Fetisov, Kozlov and Dino Ciccarelli and still lost in the semis. Maybe that Oilers team is the best in absolute terms not to win, but Boston and Detroit losing were probably greater upsets.

    • 2centz

      That is one of my new favourite Gretzky stats, thanks for that. Reminds me of an add in 1994 for the McLaren F1. It states the McLaren could accelerate faster from 100-200 than most sports cars could do 0-100.

      I also love the stat that he has more assists than Jagr has points, and then add that he also scored more goals than anyone, just to be sure.

      Wayne Gretzky accomplished everything he did, despite arguably never having an athletes body at any point in his career. Gretzky thought, prepared and anticipated the game faster than anyone else could even react to what was going on. He was on a level of his own. If you took Gretzky’s prossessing of the game, and could insert it into today’s NHL athlete, you wouldn’t even be allowed to wager on their games.

      To me goat isn’t even worthy, the name Gretzky itself is above such titles, and should be saved to discuss the rest of the amazing players to grace the game we love. Gretzky ain’t the goat, Gretzky’s, Gretzky.

      I was 7 the day he was traded, and I was at my aunt and uncles in B.C. on holidays, and everyone kept rubbing it in that he was traded. I just wanted to be back home, did the bid and cry thing. Man, that was a tough day at 7.
      Thanks for the memories and the parades Wayne. Let the haters hate, seems to be the world we live in today.

  • Gretzky’s the greatest of all time, but for my money Lemieux had the greatest individual season of all time – in 92-93, he missed twenty games to get treatment for CANCER, then came back and scored at a 3PPG pace to win the scoring title with 160 points in 60 games. Simply unbelievable.

    • Redbird62

      Yes that was remarkable coming back after cancer treatment so maybe because of the return from cancer it can be argued as a the greatest season. But Lemieux scored 56 points in those 20 games after the treatment which is a short stretch and equals 2.8 points per game. He had scored 104 in the 40 games before the cancer treatment. During his 51 game point streak in 83-84, Gretzky scored 153 points, exactly 3 points per game for more that half a season. When the streak ended, Wayne sat out 6 games to recover from a shoulder injury he had been playing through in the latter part of the streak. He finished the season with a ppg of 2.77 over 74 games. He would have broken both his single season goal record and points record if he had been healthy all season. That overall season for Gretzky gets somewhat overlooked because of his injury so he did not set any of his records other than the streak.

    • ubermiguel

      That was a stunning return and it made me a Lemieux fan. Minus cancer and a bad back Mario might have made a run at some of Wayne’s records, he was that good. McDavid actually reminds me more of Mario than Wayne with his speed and hands (especially when in traffic).

  • Serious Gord

    As I have posited elsewhere on this site, Gretz was the GOAT to have an almost completely injury-free career.

    All of his competitors- including Howe suffered serious injuries that reduced their effectiveness for long periods.

    The stats/performance gaps for several other players were as good or better than WG but for much shorter intervals.

    • McRaj

      No one in the history of the game had bigger performance gaps between themselves and #2 in the league.
      Howes biggest gap was 24 points
      Orr 21 points
      Mario 31 points
      Wayne had years with gaps of 65, 72, 79, 73, 74, 75.

      Wayne’s domination is unmatched. Not even for a single season did anyone have better stats or performance gaps than Wayne. He holds 40 single season records. When discussing the greatest of all time. The list begins with Wayne at #1 and then the argument can begin on who is #2. There is no clearer argument in any other sport about who the GOAT of the sport is than Wayne being the GOAT of hockey.

      • Redbird62

        As I said above it is hard to compare Orr and Gretzky strictly on offense because of the position. But since hockey is a 200 foot game, and it goals for and against that matter, Bobby Orr’s plus minus per game played towers over any other player who played the game. He controlled the entire ice surface in any game state. Orr was the best defensive player in the game for most of his career, easily the best offensive defenseman ever, and the one of the three best offensive players during his era. Gretzky’s the best offensive player ever by enough margin that I say it is too close to call in terms of GOAT.

        • Ignoring for a moment the problems with +/-, Orr and Gretzky had almost identical +/- in their first 12 seasons in the league and I believe Gretzky is the only other player to have a +100 season.

          Gretzky was no defensive slouch. The other team almost never scored when Gretzky was on the ice in his prime.

      • Serious Gord

        1. Numbers – obviously don’t tell the whole story. Otherwise guys like serge Savard don’t amount to a hill of beans.

        2. That noted, look closer at the numbers on a percentage basis not just the numerical gap.

        For example WG total was 1.41Times higher than bossy. Howe was 1.33. And Howe fought and hit and played a far more complete game.

        3. Take the strength of the team into account (how many points would mcdavid be getting right now if he was playing with the team WG had)

        4. Orr had that margin AS A DEFENSEMAN. He is the only d man to EVER lead in points.

    • Jason Gregor

      Where did Howe have a long injury? He missed 30 games once. Similar to Gretzky missing 35 in 1993. Howe played 25 years in the NHL, and for 20 straight years he was top-five. He left game when he was 43 for a few years, then went to WHA. Did play again in NHL in 1979, but scored 41 points. He missed 30 games once in his first 25 years. I don’t see any serious injury that reduced his effectiveness to that point.

        • Serious Gord

          And lets not forget the series of serious fractures that the rocket suffered early in his career keeping him out of the war (deformed ankle).

          So many what ifs…

          • Jason Gregor

            The war began in 1939. Howe was 13 years old. It ended in 1945. He played his first NHL game in 1946/1947. He played in Omaha the year before. Yes, he had the head injury, suffered in the playoffs, but he didn’t miss one regular season game because of it.

        • OriginalPouzar

          If you want to talk injuries effecting play, what about Gretzky’s back injury suffered when Suter cross-checked him in 1991 – his production dropped by 42 points (163 to 121) from the year before and after the injury and never recovered to previous levels.

      • Serious Gord

        So a skull fracture resulting in a tic absolutely had no impact on how Howe played. All these players – including Crosby- who suffered concussions had no diminishment of how they played compared to before? You are certain of this Gregor?

    • Serious Gord, you clearly know your history and have been watching hockey for a long while, but I’m amazed that you’re either forgetting or ignoring Gretzky’s bad back. That hit from Suter in the Canada Cup significantly slowed him down from that point forward. He still managed to play through it, but I think it made him less effective.

      • Serious Gord

        That injury happened in his 11th NHL season – orr for example only played 12 Total.

        Gretzky played 1487 games in 20 years – about 93% of the number possible. He missed 16 games in EDM in nine seasons – 98% attendance. Not one of his rivals comes close to that level of health.

        • Jason Gregor

          Howe played 1767 of a possible 1824 games over 26 NHL seasons. He played in 96.88% of his games. His head injury, while scary didn’t impact him as a player. He had 68 points in 70 games in 1949/1950, then was injured in the playoffs. The next season he played all 70 games and produced 86 points. Despite a longer career he was actually healthier, and played more of his teams games than Gretzky. I agree for both, that part of what made them great was their ability to stay healthy.

          Also, an injury didn’t end Howe’s career. He choose to retire in Sept of 1971 when Norris offered him an executive job. Both were extremely healthy, but in fact Howe missed fewer games, despite playing more games than Gretzky. Gretzky missed 97 in his career and Howe missed 57.

          • Serious Gord

            How do you know it didn’t impact his play? A reputable journo in Pittsburgh studied the length of crosby’s Passes before and after concussions and found they were significantly shorter. Perhaps it reduced his ability to process what he sees.

            WG is the only player to not have suffered a significant injury in the first ten years of his career.

            You have no way of knowing what the injury did to Howes ability to play. Unless you are saying players with concussions should play…

        • Jason Gregor

          I just pointed out Howe missed fewer games. You said no one comes close. Howe did play a higher % of his games. He also finished top-five in scoring 20 consecutive seasons. If it impacted him, he didn’t show it. So I will go off the results and not speculate on how an injury might have impacted his play. This really has nothing to do with Crosby’s injury.

  • Abagofpucks

    It was a great year for Lemieux with having cancer treatments and all. i can’t say a bad thing about it, but gretz did have a 262 point season including playoffs one year.

  • CMG30

    Yup. As someone fortunate enough to watch Gretzky in his prime, I can say that no one, not even McDavid compares. Now, McDavid has the best shot of anyone I’ve seen since Gretzky, but he’s not there yet. Whenever those articles about the greatest player in history crop up from time to time I just laugh. In the entire history of the NHL there is Gretzky and then there is everyone else.

      • Redbird62

        I am pretty sure you misunderstood his use of the word shot, which in this context I would interpret as referring to McDavid having the best “chance” since Gretzky to be the GOAT and was not referring to his shooting ability. Having said that, even defining what the best shot is is not straight forward. During his span with the Oilers, Gretzky shooting percentage was 20.9, which was 5th best during that time period of anyone who scored 100 goals. Thing is Gretzky fired at least 1,000 more shots than anyone above him on that list (He led the league in total shots over his 9 NHL Oiler years) , and the only other high volume shooter even close to Gretzky in shooting % was Mike Bossy, who took 600 less shots, and had a slightly lower shooting percentage. At the end of the day, the two most important attributes of shooting are did you get a shot away and did you score and Gretzky did that as well anyone ever during that 9 year span.
        The memory of what Gretzky was capable of and accomplished during his time in Edmonton gets watered down. People will say that Lemieux and Bossy were better goal scorers as they sit above Wayne in goals per game (Bossy – 752 GP – 573 Goals .76 G/GP; Lemieux – 915 GP – 660 Goals – .75 G/GP – Gretzky (in 4th @ 1487 GP – 894 and 0.60 G/GP) However, through his first season in LA, Gretzky played 774 games (comparable to Bossy’s career and scored 637 goals for a pace of .82 G/GP. And by the time he had reached 915 games played, Gretzky had scored 715 goals or .78 G/GP. For a variety of reasons, including the injury, aging et cetera mentioned by Jason, Gretzky game changed in his last 500 or so games. But during his extended prime, he scored goals better than anyone ever.

    • 99OilersFan

      I too was fortunate enough to watch Gretz in his prime. It is amazing to me that even when presented with the crazy numbers that Gretz put up, (Thanks Gregor) that there is even a debate. Conner, Mario, Orr, Howe, Sid. All were (are) dominant and therefore great. No argument from me there. However, “… there is Gretzky and then there is everyone else.” Truer words were never spoken.

  • JSR

    As a 17yr. old, it didn’t make sense to me, but a few years later, I understood it was a business decision. As much as the fan in me disagreed with the trade, Peter owned the team and he could make some $$, as this was a business to him.
    As a fan, we tend to forget its a business.

      • wiseguy

        Not even close for Tiger or Phil. Roger Federer is the most dominant by a mile if you count individual major sports. If you include women, Serena Williams is the most dominant athlete by far in her sport.

        • Serious Gord

          Nadal was a lot closer to Federer than Phil was to Tiger. And Borg dominated tennis for four or five years to a much greater degree than Nadal in an era when male tennis careers were much shorter.

          Serena did have her sister as a close rival. And Graf and Navratilova arguably were more dominant in their eras – they both had significantly higher win percentages.

  • I have “ Kings Ransom “ taped and it confuses me every time I watch it. I think that Wayne’s name was even coming up in trade rumours was hurting him. It was late to let the “Goat” without a new contract . Why wasn’t he shopped around? McNall was a scum bag, defrauding banks and the Oilers of value. The Oil winning a championship might of saved PP ‘s life. But he says in the show they asked to sit down and talk new contract and he said later. And he said he understood that they did what they had to do.
    After watching the show I wasn’t quite as pissed Peter besides being a bad business tycoon. And how was he not shopped? I really don’t care it grew hockey in the sunbelt.

    • Serious Gord

      No one knew that mcnall was a crook at the time. And I don’t think any other team would have paid PP anywhere near the amount of cash he did. And of course there was the issue that WGs wife wanted to be in LA.

  • OriginalPouzar

    An important part of the subsequent Carson for Klima, Murphy, Graves and Sharples trade is that Sharples was flipped at the 1990 deadline to rent Rexi Routsalanian – another key piece in the 1990 cup win.

  • OriginalPouzar

    A related stat (non just Gretzky) is that no team in the history of the NHL has ever scored 400 goals in a season, except for the Oilers, who did it 5 times.

  • Frank Rizza

    I was 9 years old and we were at Sylvan lake sitting in the car and my mom and grandma were crying. It felt like we were in the car for hours and I just remember being really sad. I also remember vividly watching the Kings win game 7 in 1989 with Gretzky scoring a game clinching goal while Kurri was chasing him. For whatever reason those 2 memories are what I think about when I think about the trade.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I saw every game Wayne played at the Coliseum up to the ’84 cup. My opinion, goalies were uniformly inferior to gumps today. In fact, defencemen today wear bigger shinpads than 1980’s tenders. My opinion, hooking, holding and tackling was acceptable then, today it is relatively absent. Gretzky wore shadows like Steve Kasper and Billy Carroll as if they were hair shirts. Finally, a fact: hockey pools allowed participants to select either Gretzky goals or assists, the 1st pick in pools was #99 assists the 2nd pick was #99 goals. That sums up how dominant he was. Despite sieve goalies like Reggie Lemelin and Warren Skorodenski, #99 remains unquestionably the greatest.

  • Kal Tire

    I agree Gregor, the only way to fairly evaluate players from different era’s is how they performed relative to their peers, who happen to be the best in the world at that time.
    And for everyone who likes to comment on the goalies being trash back then, can you imagine what Gretzky would have done if he had one of those composite sticks instead of the red Titan 2×4, or a pair of carbon fibre custom fit-to-your-foot skates?
    Point is, if you’re gonna look at the negatives of the past you need to also consider the positives of the present.
    On another note I think it would be awesome to have the NHL players play with wooden sticks for a game or two. Then we can see how much these new sticks are compensating, and who actually has an NHL calibre shot.