“I think a thousand goals is possible for him, especially after what we saw tonight,” former NHL defenseman and ESPN analyst PK Subban said this month after Ovechkin netted a goal. hat trick to become the third player in NHL history to hit 800 goals. “…There is no doubt in my mind that it can reach 900, but I think a thousand is there. Why not?”
800 goals ago, Alex Ovechkin was a rookie who needed a roommate
A thousand goals may be ambitious, but 895 is achievable for 37-year-old Ovechkin, who passed Gordie Howe for second on the all-time list.
As the Big Eight continues its pursuit of the Big One, here’s a look at several other records from the four major professional sports that are considered — or were once considered — unbreakable.
Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 points
Take away his 894 goals and Gretzky will still hold the NHL scoring record thanks to his ridiculous 1,963 assists in 1,487 games. With 1,921 points in 246 more games, Jaromir Jagr is a distant second on the career list.
“To me, it’s like number one,” Jagr said after passing Mark Messier for second place in December 2016. “I don’t really count Wayne Gretzky. He was from another planet. I don’t think let him be from this planet. Whatever he’s done, it’s unbreakable.
Martin Brodeur’s 125 shutouts
For years after his retirement in 1970, goaltender Terry Sawchuk’s record of 445 wins seemed untouchable. Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche star Patrick Roy eclipsed Sawchuk’s mark in 2000, and Brodeur passed them both, ending his 23-year career in 2015 with 691 wins.
It’s Brodeur’s shutout record, however, that seems most certain. While seven goaltenders now have more wins than Sawchuk, Brodeur is the only one to surpass his 103 shutouts. The second closest active goaltender is Marc-Andre Fleury, 38, with 72.
The complete 749 parts of Cy Young
Unless Rob Manfred or a future commissioner shortens games to six innings or robot umpires finally call balls and strikes for robot pitchers, no one will challenge this century-old mark. Consider: MLB pitchers combined for 36 complete games in 2022. Young pitched at least 36 complete games in 11 of his 22 seasons, and he finished 103 more complete games than Pud Galvin, who is second on the list.
The complete game leader among active pitchers is St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright with 28. Young’s records for starts (815), wins (511) and losses (315) are likely untouchable, too.
2632 consecutive games of Cal Ripken Jr.
Lou Gehrig’s unbreakable streak of 2,130 consecutive games played lasted 56 years before Ripken broke it on September 6, 1995. The Iron Man played two more seasons without missing a game until he finally decided that it “was time” to take a day off.
“It’s a record that I think will be there for a generation,” said then-commissioner Bud Selig.
Combine consecutive games played for players with the third and fourth longest streaks (Everett Scott and Steve Garvey, respectively) and it doesn’t tie Ripken’s mark. The longest streak since the end of Ripken belongs to Miguel Tejada, who played 1,152 consecutive games from 2000 to 2007.
John Stockton’s 15,806 assists
Stockton led the league in assists for nine consecutive seasons from 1987-88 to 1995-96. The Utah Jazz legend has 3,715 more assists than Jason Kidd, who retired in 2013 second on the all-time list. Phoenix Suns 37-year-old point guard Chris Paul, who is No. 3, could average 10 assists per game over a full season over the next five years and still not pass Stockton. Paul is averaging 9.1 assists this season but has been limited to 18 games due to a heel injury.
“I hate to say never, but nobody understands that,” Paul said in 2019.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 points
Wilt Chamberlain still holds several unbreakable records, including career rebounds (23,924) and points in a game (100), but Abdul-Jabbar surpassed him to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on 5 April 1984 and played five more seasons.
A knee injury during Karl Malone’s 40th season derailed his quest to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record, leading him to retire 1,459 points from the mark in 2005. The Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who passed Malone in March and is averaging 27 points in his 38-year-old season, is on course to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record in February.
“To sit here and know that I’m about to break probably the most wanted record in the NBA, the things that people say will probably never be done, I think that’s just super humiliating for me,” said said James in September.
From 2020: Any GOAT discussion must include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Emmitt Smith’s 18,355 rushing yards
Smith rushed for at least 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons during his 13-year career with the Dallas Cowboys and retired after rushing for 937 yards at age 35 with the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Smith said after breaking Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton’s rushing record of 16,726 yards in 2002. “The game just keeps evolving.”
Offenses have become much more passing-oriented in the ensuing 20 years, increasing the likelihood that Smith’s record will last forever.
“Nobody’s ever going to break that record,” said LaDainian Tomlinson, who gave up nearly 5,000 yards from Smith’s mark this year. “There are not enough opportunities for the ball carriers.”
Jerry Rice’s 197 touchdowns
As with Gretzky and Young, Rice’s resume includes several records that could be considered unbreakable, including his 1,549 catches and 22,895 receiving yards. Even with the passing proliferation in today’s NFL — teams combined for 694 touchdown passes in 2002 and 840 last season — Rice’s touchdown record is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon, if ever.
Randy Moss, who broke Rice’s single-season touchdown record with 23 in 2007, had 41 fewer touchdowns than Rice’s career-high in 2012. Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams is the active leader with 85; Rice had 118 at the same time in her career.
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