Alex Ovechkin on Wayne Gretzky's goal record: 'Of course it matters'

Ovechkin, who turns 34 years old in a week, is 237 regular season tallies away from breaking Gretzky's 25-year-old NHL record. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Players like Alex Ovechkin simply don’t grow on trees.

Since breaking into the league with a 52-goal, 106-point campaign back in the 2005-06 season, he’s proven to be one of the most dominant goal scorers that the game has ever seen. There’s simply no disputing that.

The eight-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner is one of only two active players in the top 50 of the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list. Patrick Marleau — who is still without a contract ahead of the upcoming season — is the other.

And with every year that he fires a bucket’s worth of pucks behind the world’s best goaltenders, people continue to wonder if he’ll one day break Wayne Gretzky’s regular season goal record.

“Of course it matters, but like I said, I’m not going to score 300 goals in two years,” Ovechkin said, when asked about the mark, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. “It’s going to take five or six years. I have to be healthy enough to do that. I don’t want to play just for that record. I want to be healthy, I want to have fun, I want to enjoy the moment when I’m on the ice.”

237 lamp-lighters away from the record, the Russian would need to continue scoring at a pretty impressive clip to become the game’s undisputed best. That, or he’d need to extend his career into his early 40’s. Nonetheless, you have to admire his realistic approach to the task. This isn’t anything new from him, though.

With only two years remaining on his current contract, he echoed a similar sentiment while flirting with the idea of retirement following the 2020-21 campaign.

“I have two more years to play, under my contract,” he stated in early August. “Let us wait and see whether I will continue my career as everything depends on the health.”

Obviously Gretzky’s production dipped as he entered the twilight of his career. However, the math when comparing him with Ovi ahead of the 2019-20 season is intriguing. In his 1,487 regular season contests, Gretzky averaged 0.601 goals per game. Through his first 1,084 games, Ovechkin’s averaging 0.607.

Take them or leave them, those are the numbers at this point in time.

As has always been the case with discussion revolving around The Great 8, The Great One and the mark, all we truly can do is speculate and appreciate the talent we get to watch regularly whenever Ovechkin laces ‘em up.

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