They told Wayne Gretzky it couldn’t be done, too. And then they gave up telling him anything.
Whether it was 92 goals, 215 points or scoring 50 in 39 games, Gretzky did what was thought to be impossible. Slowly but spectacularly, he taught us to reshape our definitions of what could and could not be accomplished in a National Hockey League season.
So, as we prepare to follow Connor McDavid’s quest for 100 points in a 56-game season — something many believed could not be done — we should be cautious when we say things like, “Well, how’s he going to average over two points per game in his final 11 games?”
Or, “C’mon. How many different players have averaged the 1.79 points-per-game needed to register 100 points in 56 games?”
The answer: Nine players have done it on 25 different occasions, including Gretzky 11 times, Mario Lemieux six times, and Phil Esposito twice.
Can McDavid join that group over the next 11 games?
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets more than 100 points,” Gretzky said this week. “Just to show people he’s capable of doing it.”
Sadly, there will be no travelling media circus following McDavid around the North Division over Edmonton’s final 11 games, the way they did when Gretzky was chasing down a record. The stories that live on from the time Esposito was following the Oilers as Gretzky chased down his record of 76 goals in a season were legendary, and Gordie Howe spent some time on the road as Gretzky annihilated his single-season points records as well.