Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wayne Gretzky Sets NHL Record

On March 23, 1994, NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky scored his record-breaking 802nd career NHL goal.  Gretzky surpassed his childhood hero Gordie Howe, whose record stood for almost 15 years.

The iconic photo from Wayne Gretzky's 802nd goal.

In the second period of a game against the Vancouver Canucks, Gretzky received a cross-ice feed from Marty McSorley and buried it into a yawning cage for the record-breaking goal.  “The Great One” would record an additional 92 goals in his career, finishing with a total of 894 regular season goals.  At the time of his retirement many considered this record to be untouchable.

Gretzky’s 20-year NHL career between the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers would see him play in 1,487 regular season games, scoring 894 goals, 1,963 assists for 2,857 points. He would score 204 power play goals, and 73 shootout goals, 91 of those were game winning goals.

Wayne Gretzky on the Los Angeles Kings in 1994.
Gretzky would make the playoffs in all but four seasons, as he played in 208 games, scoring 122 goals, 260 assists for 382 points.

Gretzky would be a star in International play as well, earning three Gold medals (1984, 1987, 1991) and one Silver (1981) in Canada Cup play. He would earn a Bronze in both 1978 World Junior Championship and the 1982 World Championships, as well Silver in the 1996 World Cup. Gretzky would also play for team Canada in the 1998 Winter Olympics, but would not medal.

Gretzky would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 22, 1999, becoming the tenth player to bypass the three-year waiting period. The Hall of Fame announced he would be the last player to do so. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2000.

In addition, Gretzky's jersey number 99 was retired league-wide at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game. Gretzky's jersey number 99 is only the second number ever to be retired league-wide by a major North American sports league, the other being Jackie Robinson's number 42, which was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997.

After his playing career ended Gretzky would go on to coach in the NHL with the Phoenix Coyotes. He would coach them for four years, never making the playoffs and only once posting more wins than losses in regulation, 2007-2008 season the Coyotes were 38-37-7.