For the last couple of weeks (and even the last couple of months), whenever the name Wayne Gretzky has actually been pointed out it accompanied that of Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.
“Will ‘The Great 8’ be able to catch ‘The Great One’?”
“Can Ovi accomplish such a remarkable feat?”
MORE: Can ‘The Terrific 8’ catch Wayne Gretzky?
The number is rather lofty: 894
8 hundred and ninety-four times Wayne Gretzky buried the puck into the oppositionnet 8 hundred and ninety-four times he energized the home town crowd and the going to ones, too. 8 hundred and ninety-four times he scored a goal– which was simply in the NHL’s routine season.
It appears like permanently back we last saw that slender kid from Brantford, Ont., skate up the ice in his lightweight Jofa helmet with the jersey tucked into his trousers on one side and bury the puck; 21 years ago Sunday to be precise.
The 1998-99 season was not a kind one for the New york city Rangers. After a wonderful run to the Eastern Conference finals in 1997 that was, in reality, powered by Gretzky, the team slipped and, after a 25-win season, was once again far outside the playoff photo.
However despite the year’s frustrating result, having Gretzky wear Ranger blue made every game unique.
“I always thought that if you put Wayne Gretzky on the Rangers it would be like having the Babe Ruth on the Yankees, which of course was reality, but there was that legendary thing of Babe Ruth on the Yankees, maybe the best player in baseball being on the most iconic team in the biggest city and that’s how I felt it was going to be with Gretzky,” former Rangers general manager Neil Smith informed SportingNews ” It would be an incredible thing for New york city to have the best gamer ever play in their uniform which’s how I constantly felt the entire time he was playing, the entire 3 years. Each time I looked down and saw hat he remained in that uniform I sort of looked two times, to go like, ‘oh my god he truly remains in the Rangers jersey and it’s Wayne Gretzky.’
” Ideally the Ranger fans comprehended while he was with us, his status within the history of the game, and took pleasure in every minute that he bet the Rangers which they’re truly seeing history when they were seeing him.”
So a useless Monday night game in March at Madison Square Garden versus the arch-rival New york city Islanders immediately ended up being a historical and groundbreaking one.
From puck drop, it was a back-and-forth contest with Adam Graves providing the Rangers a 1-0 lead prior to Mariusz Czerkawski evened things up simply over 5 minutes later on.
Then, late in the 3rd duration, a minute for the record books.
Rangers captain Brian Leetch got the puck on net from above the blue line that Isles netminder Wade Flaherty guided to the boards. Trevor Linden, the other New York City captain, got the puck however under pressure from John MacLean coughed it approximatelyGretzky “The Great One” got a preliminary shot off prior to knocking in the loose puck in the crease and including his name to another milestone.
The Garden crowd leapt to its feet in event and cheered for his ninth goal of the season. As is the standard in Manhattan, with the crowd singing “The Goal Song” and with his colleagues swarming, a graphic increased on the screen: Wayne Gretzky has actually simply passed Gordie Howe with his 1,072 nd specialist goal (WHA & & NHL), consisting of playoffs
“Obviously at the time you didn’t know it was going to be his last goal,” kept in mind Mike Richter, who was the Rangers goalie that night, to SportingNews “That’s insane. Someone as soon as stated that’ fantastic players compose fantastic scripts’, and Wayne constantly did, I indicate, like no one else?
” When you’re as excellent as he exists’s many records to fall, there’s gon na be many cool minutes like that. It’s quite remarkable … He’s certainly talented on many levels however he takes the puck to the front of the net there– and the majority of his objectives are spectacular things you understand– however he was likewise simply clever adequate to hang out where the pucks was going to go, as everyone understands about him.
“That would be almost a garbage goal, finds the rebound in front of the net and chips it in like Phil Esposito used to do. He was scoring every way possible, I guess if you’re gonna have those types of records you’re gonna have to because that’s just such an incredible number of goals to be scored.”
It would be weeks prior to anybody understood that Gretzky was formally hanging his skates up after the Rangers’ last game of the season. The media and fans didn’t discover out till 2 days ahead of time as he didn’t desire the excitement.
And while he just scored 9 objectives that last season– naturally the No. 9 was included– every one was wonderful. That last one, under the bright lights of Broadway on among the NHL’s greatest phases for an Original 6 team.
“It’s just great for the franchise, for the history of the team,” stated Smith. “He played his last three years in New York. … It’s great to see in the record book that was achieved with New York and with the Rangers.”
“MSG has so many great bits of history … there’s hidden trivia all over the place,” added Richter. “It’s old, it’s just got great history in all sports but Wayne just keeps making those records. And of course, this was against the Islanders so what better? The guy who has had his own rivalries across his whole life walks right in and becomes an important part of the rivalry that we have had for decades.”
Twenty-one years ago Wayne Gretzky did something he did his whole life with grace and ease: NHL goal No. 894, profession goal No. 1,072 and game- winning NHL goal No. 91.