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Saturday, January 10, 2009

These NHL records won't fall

Earlier this week, I watched on TV as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Steve Bernier, in the second period, scored two goals in 12 seconds.

Amazingly, despite the Vancouver Canuck's anemic record over the years, that is not the team record. The fastest two goals by one Canuck record was set by Gerry O'Flaherty with two in nine seconds in 1974.

That got me thinking. Due to the nature of how hockey is played these days, Steve Bernier would probably not usually be allowed to try for the fastest three goals through having three consecutive shifts, with player shifts as a rule being much quicker than in previous decades. Bill Mosienko's  record of the fastest ever hat trick--21 seconds--may be safe forever, due to how the game is now played.

I would say that Gretzky's career scoring records may never be broken. Perhaps his single season scoring records too.

Are there any NHL records that you think will never be shattered?   

Posted by Rick Hiebert on January 10, 2009 in Sports | Permalink


Hopefully the Tronna Unable Laff's pathetic 40+ year losing streak from the playoffs. I say kick them out of the league for being so pathetic.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-01-10 7:13:31 PM

Another defenceman will never win the scoring championship. Bobby Orr rules!

Posted by: Markalta | 2009-01-10 7:25:30 PM

Gretz's point streak will never be touched. I don't think his seasonal point records (goals, assists, total points) ill ever be touched either. Throws in the 50 in 39 one too.

Posted by: daru; | 2009-01-10 7:34:47 PM

If the NHL embarks on the same size of expansion as it did before the Gretzky era, his records are well within reach. History shows that in virtually every period where the NHL has seen dilution of talent, scoring levels have risen, not fallen. So the free wheelin’ high flying 1980’s, when NHL scoring hit a high of 8.03 goals per game in 1981-82 and continued apace until roughly 1992-93 was not because of the advent of European/Soviet speed and style of play, but simply because a Canadian population of 23 million, supplying some 90% of all NHL players, could not support continued expansion. The NHL essentially expanded to the point where it was outstripping the available talent pool even with the influx of NCAA players and the boost the American game received in the 1980’s from the Miracle on Ice.

It also raises questions about the quality of play and player accomplishments during various periods of NHL history. Mike Bossy scored his 50-in-50 in 1980-81 just when NHL scoring was reaching an almost record high of 8.03 goals per game. The NHL of the 1950’s, when Gordie Howe ruled the rinks, averaged an eye-popping 5.16 goals per game. By 1974-75, in an 18-team NHL, goals scored averaged 6.85 per game. In 1976-77, with the failure of Kansas City – a boost for the talent pool – scoring dropped to 6.42 goals per game. With the addition of four WHA teams in 1979-80 averages jumped to the highest levels since WW2 at 7.03 per game.

During World War II, when English Canadians [French Canada’s participation rates were nominal] proudly pulled on puttees and took up the mantle of Lord Nelson, goal per game averages jumped from a meager 4.8 per game from 1930-41 to an astronomical 8.17 goals per game in 1943-44. Maurice the “Rocket” Richard’s much heralded first ever 50-in-50 occurred in 1944-45 when English Canada’s hockey stars were in Europe risking their lives.

Fascinating insights are wrought from a comparison of Howe’s scoring stats in the 1950’s and Gretzky’s in the 1980’s. In straight totals, Howe scored 383 goals over the decade and Gretzky’s tallies were 637. Howe’s season was 70 games long and Wayne played 80. To account for the additional games we multiply Gordie’s totals by 1.15 giving Howe a total of 440. Then accounting for the goal per game average differential we multiply 440 x 1.6. Howe’s total jumps to 705 goals scored if he had played in the 1980’s - an average of almost 7 goals per year greater than Gretzky; one can only dream.

Stats show scoring totals stabilized at an average of 5.27 goals per game in the 1997-98 season after the wave of European talent crested in 1994-95. In a bizarre dichotomy, on the one hand pundits who praise the wide-open European style of the 1980’s epitomized by Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers and on the other revealing statistics that the freewheeling 80’s were the most diluted decade in the history of the NHL, bearing a resemblance more to shinny than hockey.

Even more compelling evidence of Howe's superiority is found by examining the second decade of both Gordie's and Gretzsky's careers. In the 1960's, with goals per game averaging 5.45 Howe tallied 314 goals. In the 1990's the average hovered around 6.28 goals per game, reaching a low point in 1997-98 of 5.27, a year in which Gretzky totaled 23 goals culminating in a decade tally of 248. Even without considering the effect of inflated scoring totals caused by expansionist dilution of the talent pool, Gordie outscored Wayne by almost seven goals per year.

Posted by: DJ | 2009-01-10 8:59:57 PM

I didn't know that this was a sports blog.

This post is lame and will turn away readers, if more like it follow, I'm removing The Shotgun from my feed aggregator.

If I wanted sports news I'd subscribe to a sports blog :P

Posted by: Pete | 2009-01-10 9:06:14 PM

...Pete, grab a brain. This is the only one I've seen a long time. If that is all that takes to tip you off, then be gone!


Thanks for the update DJ. But one flaw in stats, they don't show reality. Gordie Howe may not have lasted as long as Gretz with the gruling schedules they have.

Remember 1 hour flight/drives are a bit different then 4-5 between towns..

Posted by: tomax7 | 2009-01-11 9:43:39 AM

Theo Fleury's three short handed goals in one game. That must have been something to see.

Posted by: Ralph Anderson | 2009-01-11 2:41:41 PM

Consecutive games played--players are too big, they skate too fast and collisions are too violent for anybody to play some 900+ consecutive games.

Posted by: Tim Plett | 2009-01-11 3:10:11 PM


Maybe. Unlike Gretzky, Gordie did fight his own fights.

"Arguably the greatest forward in the history of the game, Mr. Hockey was also - indisputably - the best fighter.

Forget about different eras, bigger guys, improved training and conditioning. In terms of pure fighting ability, Howe was the real deal - head and shoulders above the rest.

Not suprisingly, many of the ingredients that made this six-foot, 205-lb. strongman such a superb player also elevated his fistic prowess. The balance that made him almost impossible to knock down during the ebb and flow of a game never failed him when he shed the gloves. But the two most devastating weapons in his arsenal were an unteachable ability to concentrate maximum force in every punch, and the single-minded killer instinct of a shark.

The fight that would forever cement Howe's reputation as a player never to be trifled with took place on a February night in 1959, and fittingly enough it was at Madison Square Garden, the mecca of big time boxing. Howe's Detroit Red Wings were battling the New York Rangers, and midway through the first period Howe and New York's Eddie Shack collided violently behind the Rangers net. Neither player was the worse for wear, but referee Frank Udvari moved in to make sure their sticks stayed down.

Just as the tension seemed diffused, however, Rangers tough guy Lou Fontinato - six-foot-two and 220 pounds - came roaring in from the blue line and suckered the unsuspecting Howe with three hellacious lefts to the head. Fontinato, the NHL's reigning penalty king, had forged a league-wide reputation as a formidable heavyweight by resorting to such tactics to leave opposing players crumpled in a heap.

But Howe barely budged.

Instead, he shook off the punches, then grabbed Fontinato by the throat and pulled him in. At the same time, he cocked his left fist and fired a single punch that shattered Fontinato's cheek bone. Propping up the dazed Ranger with his right arm, Howe threw another punch that broke Fontinato's nose. A third left opened a huge gash over his eye. A fourth split both lips.

One of Fontinato's teammates later said Howe's punches "sounded like an axe splitting wood."

Nobody made a move as Howe delivered the coup de grace, a short, chopping right that dropped Fontinato face-first in a bloody heap. The Detroit star then turned and skated directly to the penalty box. Fontinato went to hospital."

Posted by: DJ | 2009-01-11 4:59:33 PM

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