By Peter Fortunato, Editor
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch hockey, but I can still appreciate the unquestioned greatness of Wayne Gretzky. However, it wasn’t until I visualized his career statistics that I realized how unreachable Gretzky’s accomplishments are to the rest of the National Hockey League.
This first graph establishes the fact that Gretzky’s career points far exceeds everyone else to have ever played in the NHL. His 2,857 points is 936 more than Jaromir Jagr’s career total. In fact, the difference between Gretzky (1) and Jagr (2) is greater than the difference between Jagr and 93rd-place Dave Keon’s 986 career points.
The main reason Gretzky’s career points are so far above everyone else is because of his career assists. If you took away Gretzky’s career goals and left him with 1,963 points, that would still put him first all-time for career points. The difference between Gretzky and second-place Ron Francis is larger than Francis and 129th-place Rob Blake.
Measuring single-season assist totals is really where Gretzky’s Greatness comes out. There have been only 13 seasons in which a player recorded more than 100 assists, and Gretzky has 11 of them, including the first eight. It’s simply remarkable how much Gretzky separates himself.
Looking at single-season points, Gretzky again is simply unmatched. He is the only player to ever score more than 200 points in a season, and he did it four separate times. He is also responsible for 9 of the top-11 single-season points records.
I wanted to include this final graph as it conveys Gretzky’s accomplishments in a similar way as the previous two. Of the top-10 single-season points per game records, Gretzky has seven of them, including the top two. It’s amazing to think that for much of Gretzky’s career, his team could count on him producing at least two points each game he played.
While I may not be a hockey fan, I’m very much a fan of how Gretzky’s stats visually put him echelons above the rest of the competition. I believe it’s important that sports fans conceptualize greatness like this and see what “setting the bar” really means, especially when honoring “The Great One”.
These data are courtesy of Hockey Reference (https://www.hockey-reference.com/leaders/).