NHL History: Wayne Gretzky hits 50 goals in 39 games

It was on this day in NHL history when Wayne Gretzky scored five goals against the Philadelphia Flyers to set an NHL record that will never be touched. 50 goals in 39 games. Unbelievable.

On December 30th, 1981, Wayne Gretzky blew the hockey world’s collective brains out the back of their skulls, scoring five of his team’s seven goals in a 7-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to reach the unbelievable total of 50 goals in 39 games. Leading up to this moment, Gretzky scored a mindblowing nine goals over the course of two games to earn himself this NHL record that will simply never be touched. And while it’s obvious to say that this was a different era with different rates of production and varying levels of skill, the Great One put himself on a heater that was absolutely devastating for his opponents and it was a lot of fun to look back and watch the highlights again. I mean, nine goals in two games to get himself to fifty? That’s ridiculous.

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As I was watching the highlight pack above, the first thing that came to mind was how incredible the atmosphere was at Northlands that night — if you’re interested, here’s a link to the full game — and it almost seemed like getting Gretzky to fifty was inevitable. As he scored his first of the night and then his second and third, the vibe in the building seemed to shift to a point where the fans were expecting the remaining goals to come rather than hoping they would. Wherever he went, the puck seemed to follow 99 as he danced and wove his way through lanes in traffic that may as well been created for him. He was basically a cheat code at that point. A game genie in a world of Pong players. As a lifelong Oilers fan that is too young to remember his time here, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be experiencing all of this stuff as a fan of the team.

Wayne Gretzky went on to finish the 1981-82 season with 92 goals and 120 assists for 212 points, the high mark in his unbelievable career that still bogles the mind when you take a minute to really look at the numbers.


Team GP G A Pts PIM +/- PGP G A Pts PIM
WHA Totals 80 46 64 110 19 13 10 10 20 2
NHL Totals 1487 894 1963 2857 577 208 122 260 382 66