The NHL had many great players show off their skills through the years including Wayne Gretzky, the best offensive player of all-time, and Bobby Orr, the best defensive player of all-time.
To put it in perspective for those of you who are unaware of how good Gretzky was, try to imagine a player in today’s game scoring over 200 points in a season. Well Gretzky did that four times and twice came very close falling only four points short in 1982-83 with 196 points and 17 short in 1986-87 with 183 points. Although Wayne holds 61 top NHL records all to himself, there are many other impressive records that not even “The Great One” could obtain.
Some records happened so long ago that they may not even count anymore. In 1920, Joe Malone of the Quebec Bulldogs had a seven goal game which is a record that still stands today. On a number of occasions, Mario Lemieux scored five times in a game and just two seasons ago Marian Gaborik did also. In 1920 the goaltenders were still playing without masks so how could that seven goal game still hold the top spot today? Some records just are not meant to be broken and that might be one that stands for a very long time.
Another record from that same 1920 season that will be in the record books at the top spot for years to come is the record for most goals scored in a game by a team held by the Montreal Canadiens for posting 16 against Joe Malone’s Quebec Bulldogs. This was not the same game in which Malone scored his seven but even if it was it would not have been nearly enough.
The standing number one record for most points by a single player in a game came 56 years later from Darryl Sittler of the Maple Leafs who scored six goals and added four assists to total 10 points on the night. You would think Gretzky would have this record as well but since he has pretty much every other offensive record including most points in a season with 215, most goals in a season with 92 and most assists in a season with 163, we can let this one slide.
Teemu Selanne holds two records that may also never be broken and those are: Most goals by a rookie in a season with 76 in 1992-93 and most points by a rookie in a season that same year with 132. A 132 point season today is not unheard of from players like Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin but for a rookie to put up numbers like that is beyond impressive. Unfortunately due to injuries, Teemu did not eclipse the 100 point season mark again until 1996-97 with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and only once more in his career two seasons after that.
Offensively Gretzky is the greatest player of all-time but on the defensive end there are some impressive stats that might be challenging to match even in an NHL season on Playstation. Some names that come to mind are Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey.
In his 1985-86 season with the Edmonton Oilers, Coffey broke Orr’s record for most goals in a season by a defenseman with 48. Although Bobby still holds the record for most points in a season by a defenseman with 139 when he had 46 goals and 93 assists. In addition to posting these scoring records in 1971, Bobby Orr also had a plus/minus rating of +124 on the year. Orr’s career went on to flourish in the coming seasons making him the number one defenseman of all-time on almost everyone’s list.
Since we have seen stats from the best offensive and defensive players, it is time to decide the best overall team of all-time. In 1976-77 the Canadiens finished the season with 132 points but still not as many wins as the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96 when they dominated the league with 62 wins. I guess it has to come down to the fact that the Canadiens are the New York Yankees of hockey since they have hoisted the Stanley Cup an amazing 24 times while the Red Wings have only 11 championships. Just as the Yankees are the best team in baseball, the Canadiens have to be considered the best team in hockey.
There were many records broken by Gretzky that were thought of as unbreakable records before hand. Today with the young talent and rising stars in the NHL there are many players capable of setting records of their own. Today’s goaltenders are more athletic and the game is played differently than it was in Gretzky’s day lending itself to less scoring and more strategic play.
To think we might one day see someone score 215 points in a season or score 76 goals as a rookie might be a pipe dream but you never know.