Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin discussed catching Wayne Gretzky’s record for the most goals in league history (894) with Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Freidman in an interview that was published this week. The forward, who will turn 34 a week from Tuesday, enters this season with 658 career goals, 236 behind Gretzky, with two years left on his contract.
“No, I think, for him, he’s going to speak two languages anyway,” Ovechkin said in response to a question asking if wanting to see his one-year-old son, Sergei, grow up in Russia would factor into his decision before joking that he might want to speak even more.
The Capitals captain has stressed that his health would be the most important factor in deciding whether or not to keep playing beyond the 2020-21 season. He reiterated that while discussing to Freidman, saying “The most important thing is [to be] healthy. If you’re healthy, you can still play the game the way you want to play. I don’t want to be a player who signs a contract and then, ‘Okay, I’m hurt, and I’m just going to get a paycheque and going to enjoy my life.’ I don’t want to do it.”
“Of course it matters,” Ovechkin said of catching Gretzky’s record, “but like I said, I’m not going to score 300 goals in two years. 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.”
Ovechkin hinted that there is a pretty good possibility of him continuing to play to take a serious shot at Gretzky’s goal record in a recent interview with Sportsnet’s “Tim & Sid.”
Supposing Ovechkin keeps scoring at a pace of 47 goals per season as he has in his first 14 years of his NHL career, he would likely have to keep playing at least five more seasons to match Gretzky’s goal record. It seems like a stretch as Ovechkin will be 39 in five years but he has continued to defy the odds when it looks like he is beginning to slow down and people start questioning whether his 50-goal days are in the rearview mirror.
Ovechkin will likely become the eighth player in league history to reach the 700-goal plateau at some point late this season supposing that he stays healthy.
In order to take a shot at that record, Ovechkin will have to continue to stay durable as he has missed only 26 games in his 14-year NHL career. That could become more challenging for Ovechkin as he ages, though he fought off an injury scare earlier this week when he was involved in a bike accident.
As Ovechkin comes closer and closer to that milestone in the next few years, fans around the NHL will definitely be tuning in to watch one of the most entertaining players in the league chase history. Will he do it? Only time will tell.
By Harrison Brown