Alex Ovechkin has been edging closer for the last couple of years, but Wayne Gretzky is still the undisputed GOAT when it comes to goalscoring.
Wayne Gretzky is known as The Great One, and he’s the leading goal scorer, assist producer, and point scorer in NHL history.
Wayne Gretzky was perhaps more known for his playmaking, his IQ on the ice, and his stickhandling, than he was for scoring goals or having a great slapper.
But Gretzky still managed to score more goals than anyone else in history, and it’s a real possibility that the record will never be broken.
In just his third NHL season, Gretzky surpassed a goalscoring record that had stood for 35 years by scoring 50 goals in 50 games—a record first set by Maurice “Rocket” Richard during the 1944-45 season.
Mike Bossy had tied the record the previous year, but Gretzky’s accomplishments were even more impressive. Why? He did it in just 39 games.
That same season, Gretzky broke the record for most goals in a season with 76. Gretzky had a long career, and to say it was successful would be the understatement of a lifetime.
Gretzky played 20 seasons in the NHL and played against some of the greatest goalies in history. But when he was a guest on the ‘Smartness’ podcast, he was asked who the best goalie he ever faced was. And Gretzky didn’t even think about the answer for a second.
“Billy Smith,” he said without hesitation.
“They’re all so good; they’re such good athletes. And they’re better athletes today than they were 40 years ago. But Billy Smith, the game was on the line, the pressure … and the thing that made him so good is he hated me, and I hated him,” Gretzky said, laughing.
Billy Smith is perhaps most known for being the first goalie to be credited with a goal in the NHL, but he was the goalie who led the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups at the beginning of the ’80s.
“But that was when we played, and now that we’re done and over, we have a mutual respect for each other. And he was, no question, one of the greatest ever,” Gretzky said about his love-hate relationship with Smith.
Gretzky had a special move when he played, with him getting behind the net, and with the goalie having his back to him. Gretzky then flipped it over the net and rolled it off the back of the goalie and into the net. He never tried it against Billy Smith because he knew it wouldn’t turn out great.
“He was too good and too smart for that. If I was back there, he would have been swinging his stick at me,” Gretzky said.