Monday, December 30, 2013

Gretzky Scores 50

On Dec. 30, 1981, Edmonton Oilers center Wayne Gretzky scored his 50th goal of the season in just his 39th game.  Gretzky broke the record of 50 goals in 50 games that was held by both Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy.

Wayne Gretzky entered game #39 with 45 goals and needed to score five to get to 50 before the new year.  With already four goals to his name, Gretzky buried an empty netter for his fifth goal of the game to reach 50 in the Oilers 7-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.  Gretzky went on to break Phil Esposito’s record of 76 goals in a season when he recorded his 77th in February.  “The Great One” finished the year with 92 goals, a record which still stands today.

Scoring in the National Hockey League is way down when compared to the numbers being put up in the 1980’s.  With that being said, Gretzky’s record of 50 goals in 39 games figures to be safe for a very long time.
Gretzky would finish his career as the all-time leading scorer in NHL history with 894 goals, 1,963 assists for 2,857 points in the regular season.
Gretzky would also excel in the playoffs, in his 20 seasons in the NHL, Gretzky made the playoffs 16 times with the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kinds, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. He would score 122 goals, 260 assists for 382 points in just 208 playoff games.
Gretzky would also excel in the International format for his home country of Canada. In 63 games split between World Junior Championships, Canada Cup, World Championships, Rendez-vous ’87, the World Cup and the Winter Olympics in 1998, Gretzky would score 34 goals, 69 assists for a total of 103 points in 63 games.
After his playing career was over Gretzky went on to coach the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005-2009. While he was outstanding as a player he was not that as a coach, missing the playoffs every year, posting his best record in 2008 when he coached the team to a 38-37-7 record, finishing fourth in the Pacific Division with 83 points.
Gretzky at the time of his retirement, Gretzky held or shared a remarkable 61 records, which in itself is a record.  Wayne holds many of the significant offensive records for the regular season, playoffs and the All-Star Game.  Gretzky also represented Canada on several different occasions in International play, including the Winter Olympics, World Championships, World Cup and Canada Cup.

One year after his retirement, at the 2000 All-Star Game, the National Hockey League announced that Wayne Gretzky’s famous no. 99 would be retired league wide.  Gretzky became only the second man in professional North American sports to have his number permanently retired, with Jackie Robinson’s no. 42 being the first by Major League Baseball.