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Ovechkin Opens Up About Chasing Gretzky: ‘Still Don’t Think It’s Possible’

Washington Capitals captain discusses chasing Wayne Gretzky’s record, how he’s able to maintain consistency and what he thinks of his chances when it comes to hitting 895.



With the years that go by, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin finds himself facing the same question every year, and South Florida is no different. As the 37-year-old takes in the 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend with his wife and sons for the first time, he is surrounded by media, microphones, recorders and cameras as he's asked again: "Will you catch Wayne Gretzky?"

Before coming into the NHL, that question wasn't one that Ovechkin imagined facing. As a rookie coming in with high expectations to turn around the Capitals franchise, he had a simple aspiration: play well, get the team to the playoffs and try to score a few goals.

"A few goals" has now become 812, the second-most in NHL history and just 83 shy of breaking the all-time record.

"No," he said with regard to if younger "Ovi" thought he'd be a legend and future Hockey Hall of Famer. "I'm always saying, like, when you came to NHL, you try to maybe score one goal, you know, play one good year. But when you reach those milestones, it's kind of crazy things."

Now for Ovechkin, he is closing in on a feat that had been impossible back in the early 2000s with a pursuit that has been dubbed "The Gr8 Chase." After passing Gordie Howe for second on the NHL's all-time goals list, the chase for Gretzky's record now appears more likely to happen within the final two years of his contract. However, the star winger won't make any promises and even admitted that he still doesn't completely believe that he'll catch "The Great One."

"I still don't think it's possible," he laughed nervously. "How I said, I'm just going game by game and day by day."

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There's no denying that it's probable, though.

Ovechkin's managed to maintain consistency over the course of his career, hitting the 30-goal mark in all but one season: the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign that saw him miss time due to protocol and an injury toward the end of the season. He has 32 goals through 52 games this season, tying him with Mike Gartner for the most 30-goal seasons in NHL history (17). He is on pace to finish with 49.

"I think you just have to be healthy, first thing," Ovechkin said of his consistency. "Secondly, you have to be in shape.

"That's my job, right?" he added later on with regard to his ability to keep scoring at his age, and when reminded that he has the scoring talent that a lot of other players don't, he grinned, "Well, it's not my fault."

Finally, when asked one more time if he'll break that once uncatchable record, Ovechkin stuck with the same answer that he has repeated time after time with each milestone.

"I don't know," he decided. "I just go follow game by game, day by day."

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