Another year, another 50 goal campaign for Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin. Ho hum.
With eight 50+ goals seasons for the Great Eight in his career, the number is becoming stale. A much more interesting number to Ovechkin these days is 894… as in 894 goals, the NHL’s all-time goal scoring record established by the originator of the “Great” moniker, the Great One Wayne Gretzky.
For years Gretzky’s goal-scoring record seemed unreachable, but with Ovechkin sitting just 237 goals behind Gretzky’s record suddenly it doesn’t seem so crazy. Ovechkin doesn’t appear to be slowing down at 33 years of age and (knock on wood) he hasn’t had any major injury issues throughout the course of his career. Should his luck continue, there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t play until he’s 40 years old. Should he manage to play that long, he’ll only need to average 34 goals per season to break Gretzky’s record.
"I have to be healthy. I have to be in good shape," Ovechkin said to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti about the record. "I'm going to try to do it, but you don't know what's going to happen in the future."
Ovechkin has a believer in Gretzky, himself.
"He's got a chance to do it," Gretzky said on NHL Network on March 19. "He's a good athlete, he plays in a great organization, he plays with good players, which you have to do, and there's no question he has a legitimate chance. Good for him. … If he does, I'll be the first guy to shake his hand. I think it's great for the game."
Another prolific goal scorer, New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy, believe Ovi can hit the mark too.
"I always say he's going to score as many goals as he wants to for a grand total," said Bossy, an analyst for TVA Sports. "Whether he gets to 50 next year, there's not only talent, but a lot of luck that's involved also and you have to stay healthy. But with his durability, it's a matter of how many more years he wants to play and if he can continue playing with good centermen."
One of Ovechkin’s rivals, sharpshooter Steven Stamkos is also pulling for him.
"I don't think it's crazy," said Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who has scored 390 goals over 11 NHL seasons. "It's going to be tough, but the longevity he's had in his career is pointing in his favor going forward. He's always going to have that shot. It's going to be tough, but I do think there's a chance for him to break it."
The pressure’s on, Ovi.