Wayne Gretzky: 'I Think It's Great' That Alex Ovechkin Will Break NHL Goals Record

Doric SamDecember 23, 2021

FILE - At left, in a Sept. 29, 2021, file photo, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Washington. At right, in a Saturday, Jan. 27, 1996, file photo, Los Angeles Kings' Wayne Gretzky passes during an NHL hockey game against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, in Inglewood, Calif. Alex Ovechkin starts a new five-year contract ready to chase Wayne Gretzky's career goals record that long seemed unbreakable. The Washington Capitals captain has 730 goals and needs 165 to pass Gretzky. (AP Photo/File)
AP Photo/File

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky believes that Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will likely surpass his all-time NHL goals record, and the Hall of Famer said he will be happy to see the day it happens.

"It's not even a question that he will pass me, and I think it's great," Gretzky told David Waldstein of the New York Times (h/t NHL.com). "He's well on his way to 40 or 50 goals this year, maybe more. There is no doubt that ultimately he will break the record."

Ovechkin has 22 goals in 31 games this season, which is second in the NHL behind Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl. He now has 752 goals in his career, putting him 143 away from overtaking Gretzky's all-time mark of 894.

Gretzky, who retired in 1999, played 20 NHL seasons for the Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.

A 17-year veteran, Ovechkin already passed Marcel Dionne (731 goals) and Brett Hull (741) this season to move into fourth place on the NHL all-time list. He's 14 goals away from passing Jaromir Jagr (766) for third. Gordie Howe sits in second with 801 goals.

Gretzky called himself Ovechkin's "biggest fan." The NHL on TNT analyst revealed that he sends supportive texts to Ovechkin if he goes a few days without scoring.

Ovechkin signed a five-year contract extension with Washington this offseason. Gretzky praised Ovechkin for his impact on the sport of hockey earlier this year.

"If he can stay healthy, I think this is the greatest thing for the game," Gretzky said before the season. "I think it's a positive. He's been so good for not only the NHL, but he's been great for hockey in Russia. He's been great for hockey worldwide.

"So I'm just one of his biggest fans and it's only good for the game if he can break the record," he continued. "So he just has to be relaxed, and it's going to take two, three, four years, but eventually he's probably going to break the record."