First, Sidney Crosby was dubbed the “Next One.” Then, Alex Ovechkin was dubbed “The Great Eight.”
It seems like we are all just waiting for the next greatest hockey player and the fact of the matter is, we are never going to see it.
We’ll see some exceptional hockey players throughout the years, but no one quite like Wayne Gretzky and therefore fitting of sharing his nickname.
In order to be deserving of the title “Great One,” or anything of the like, you’d have to accomplish some or all of what Wayne Gretzky accomplished in his career, which seems virtually impossible in today’s sport.
Let’s go through some of Gretzky’s practically unbeatable accomplishments and some of today’s current best players to compare.
One of the many NHL records that Wayne Gretzky holds is for "Most Points in a Single Season."
Gretzky accomplished this in the 1985-86 season with the Edmonton Oilers, tallying an incredible 215 points.
This feat will probably never be broken because even today's best players often barely reach or pass 100 points.
Last year, Daniel Sedin was the only player to score more than 100 points, scoring 104. The year before, it was his brother Henrik, with 112 points to lead the league, followed by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin with 109 points apiece.
While these are great numbers for now, they are nowhere close to the 215 points Gretzky scored in the 1985-1986 season.
Possibly the most unbeatable record is Wayne Gretzky's record for "Most Goals in a Single Season." Gretzky scored 92 goals in the 1981-82 season, his fourth season with the Edmonton Oilers.
That record is closely followed by Wayne Gretzky, with 87 goals two seasons later.
This is a seemingly impossible record to tie or break because most players don't even reach 50 goals in a single season, let alone 40 more than that.
The closest anyone has come in years was Alex Ovechkin, who scored 65 goals in the 2007-08 season.
An impressive accomplishment, yes, but nowhere near the Great One.
Nine times in his NHL career Wayne Gretzky scored 50 or more goals. Eight of those seasons were consecutive from 1980-87.
Five times in his NHL career, Gretzky scored 60 or more goals, accomplishing this consecutively from 1981-1985.
Four times, Gretzky scored 70 or more goals, twice 80 or more and once he scored more than 90.
With players barely hitting 50 or more goals, there is no way that any player could ever top those statistics.
Another record that Wayne Gretzky holds is the record for "Most Career Points" with 2,857 in 1,487 total games played.
The next closest record-holder to Gretzky in that category is Mark Messier, with 1,887 points.
That's a phenomenal difference between the two and shows that even the next closest still came almost 1,000 points shy of the Great One's total.
Another record that Wayne Gretzky holds is for "Most NHL Goals." Gretzky has 894 career goals in 1,487 career games.
The next closest in the record book is Gordie Howe, with 801 career goals in almost 300 more games. After Howe, comes Brett Hull, with 741 goals in 200 less games.
The closest players in the record book who are still playing are Jaromir Jagr with 652 career goals thus far and Teemu Selanne with 642 goals thus far.
Gretzky also holds the record for "Most Career Playoff Points" scoring 382 playoff points in his career.
Those came in 208 playoff games.
The next closest is Mark Messier with 295 playoff points in 236 games.
Even in 28 more games, Messier scored 87 less points than Gretzky notched in his career.
Since Wayne Gretzky holds most NHL records for goals and points, it should come as no surprise that he also holds the record for "Most Career Playoff Goals."
Gretzky scored 122 goals in his 208 career playoff games.
The next closest was again Mark Messier, scoring 109 goals in 236 games.
Wayne Gretzky's four Stanley Cup championships may pale in comparison to the eight, nine and 10-plus championships that members of the Montreal Canadiens and Red Kelly accumulated throughout their time; however, it's one of the best in recent times.
Gretzky won all of his Cups in the 80s with the Edmonton Oilers. The first two came in 1984 and 1985, followed by 1987 and 1988.
In today's game, it's been almost impossible to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, let alone four in a five-season period.
The last team to win back-to-back Cups was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.
It's impressive that not only did Gretzky blow everyone out of the record books, but his team achieved continued success while he was doing it.
So far, the league's top three forwards (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos) have combined for one Stanley Cup.
They have some catching up to do.
Speaking of today's top three players, let's take a look at their stats compared to Gretzky's when he was at the same point in his career.
Sidney Crosby was dubbed the "Next One" after Gretzky himself said that Crosby had a shot at one day breaking his records when Crosby was just 14.
Ever since, there has been this expectation that Crosby may one day break those records and there's still a chance that he might.
When he returns, Crosby will begin his seventh season in the NHL.
He has played in 412 NHL games, scoring 215 goals, 357 assists, 572 points and one Stanley Cup.
While his missed time has thrown some things off and he would have scored more goals and points, compare that to Gretzky after six seasons.
After six seasons, Gretzky had played in 465 games, scoring 399 goals, 619 assists and 1,018 points. That's close to twice as much as Crosby in every category.
Where they are the same though, is that by the end of his sixth season, Gretzky too had one Cup to his name.
As mentioned earlier, Alex Ovechkin has been the closest to Gretzky's single-season goal record, scoring 65 goals a few seasons back.
Ovechkin has been lethal in his NHL career, but still not as lethal as Gretzky was.
Ovechkin is also playing in his seventh NHL season.
After six seasons, Ovechkin had accumulated 301 goals, 313 assists and 614 points in 475 games. He is still waiting to win his first Stanley Cup.
He might be ahead of Crosby in goals and points (also with more games under his belt), but he's behind Gretzky's point totals.
As mentioned before, after six seasons, Gretzky had played in 465 games, scoring 399 goals, 619 assists and 1,018 points.
Ovechkin has actually played in more games than Gretzky had at the same point in his career, but has scored fewer goals, assists and points than Gretzky had.
Steven Stamkos is beginning just his fourth season in the NHL, but in the past couple seasons has emerged as one of the leading scoring threats in the league.
After three seasons in the NHL, Stamkos had accumulated 119 goals, 113 assists and 232 points in 243 games.
In comparison, after his first three seasons in the NHL, Gretzky had 149 goals, 256 assists and 405 points in 231 games.
Stamkos is a lot closer to Gretzky's goal totals at this point in his career than Crosby and Ovechkin currently are, but he's still considerably behind.
We have seen Wayne Gretzky's scoring totals at various points in his NHL career compared to where today's NHL stars currently are.
Two of these stars have elicited many comparisons to Gretzky, yet are nowhere near where Gretzky was at the same point in his career.
If the supposed "next ones" are nowhere near him, that just goes to show that there really never will be another "Great One."