Wayne Gretzky is rooting for Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin to break his all-time goal scoring record. In an interview with the Associated Press’ Stephen Whyno, Gretzky is supporting Ovechkin’s chase of his goals record.
“I can’t help but cheer and root for him each and every day,” Gretzky told the AP. “I hope I’m the first guy who’s able to shake his hand when he does break my record.”
Gretzky and Ovechkin conducted a joint interview for the first time and it will air on NBC Sports Network and Sportsnet on Monday. Ovechkin’s pursuit of “The Great One’s” record was among the topics discussed.
The all-time goals scoring record is held by Gretzky at 894 goals with Ovechkin at 706 goals. What marvels Gretzky about Ovechkin is his longevity. Even at 34 years old, the Capitals forward is still putting up consistent numbers as Ovechkin is tied with Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for the league-lead with 48 goals.
The Hockey Hall of Famer doesn’t know whether Ovechkin will catch his record as the Capitals forward might desire to play in his native country.
“Maybe one day in his mind he’ll say, ‘Look, I want to go home and play in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) when I can still compete at a high level,” Gretzky said. “We don’t know that. That’s his decision. But I think he loves playing in Washington, I think he loves the NHL and I think he’ll do everything he can at any point to chase down the record.”
Gretzky said he was offered to play in the KHL following his NHL retirement but turned it down. He said Ovechkin is in a different situation since Russia is home for him.
“All I remember was my mindset was there’s one league and if I’m not good enough for this league, I’m done,” Gretzky recounted. “I grew up, I’m an NHL guy and if I can’t play in NHL, that’s it for me. He’s (Ovechkin) probably in a different scenario. He grew up in Russia and he’s proud of his country and maybe it’ll be great for him to go home.”
When asked about how much longer he wants to play during the joint interview, Ovechkin was mum pointing to his current contract that expires after next season.
“We’ll see,” Ovechkin said. “I’m healthy, thank God, and I still love this game. As soon as I’m not going to love this game, I’m not gonna cheat on it because I respect it a lot.”
Ovechkin isn’t thinking about the record amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that paused the 2019-20 season.
“My mind right now is not about 50 goals or catch ‘The Great One’ or somebody else,” he said. “My mind right now is to do the best what I can do, and what my family can do to be safe.”
Published at Sun, 19 Apr 2020 23:02:27 +0000