Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Randall Graves*, Feb 23, 2007.
Would he still hold the same place in history?
Probably wouldn't have been protected the same way, actually people would have taken runs at him and his teammates would have shunned him(don't laugh, it happened to Fetisov in his irst years)so he would have been toast in the NHL . Russians were not well liked until recently. Ironically, at least one of his paternal grandparents was Russian.
His grandfather (Walter's dad) was Russian I believe. With a name like Gretzky that isnt from Saskatoon either.
But if Gretzky was Russian you'd have to think he'd replace Larionov on the KLM line. Can you imagine him centering Krutov and Makarov? Wow.
I'm pretty sure his jersey wouldn't have been retired league-wide.
he wouldnt have been a Oiler
Would the miracle on ice be considered the game from the heavens it is considered today if it was'nt the U.S team that was involved?
Can't see this thread taking a good direction at all.
First,you make it seem like Wayne Gretzky is Marcel Dionne or something.he owns nearly every offensive record in the NHL known to man,has close to 3,000 points and was the face of the league for 20 years while giving the game of hockey whatever real visibility in had in the outside world apart from Canada for 20 years........................he's kind of a big deal.This isn't Slava Fetisov we're talking about here
Since xplo has already kicked the festivities off with the you knew it was coming "they don't like us very much" comment i'll get the ball rolling the other way.Since Russia has not yet produced a player capable of dominating the game of hockey on the level of a Wayne Gretzky(and a few other players Canada has produced).........................there isn't much sense in asking the question.
Call me when it happens,it has'nt yet.
Could this thread have really gone any other way?
Just think about it for a second. If he was Russian, he would have been stuck in the USSR until about 1989. You've just wiped out four Cup rings, the 50-in-39, the 92-goal season, the 215-point season, all the other 200-point seasons, the lapping of the field in the 1986-87 scoring race, and the dominant performance with Mario at the 1987 Canada Cup.
He'd have an incredible international portfolio, but his NHL career would have started in 1989-90. But all of the accomplishments that lead to arguments that Gretzky is the best ever would be wiped out. Plus, you'd have the adjustment to North American hockey and culture. He might win a scoring title or two, and he might have dominated the 1993 playoffs. We don't know that. But we do know that he doesn't play in North America until his late 20s. So no, he wouldn't be viewed as the best ever.
And I believe the name Gretzky is Polish.
I thought this was about if we only changed his nationality, not the history of his career. (not stating it is, I'm not sure what the thread author meant)
I firmly believe that the NHL wouldn't have allowed a Russian born player (or even a European born player) to be the first one to have his jersey retired league wide, especially since Orr didn't get his retired throughout the league. Doesn't this make sense, even to you Cyclops?
I think there's a lot of sense in asking this question.
If he had the same NHL career, yes he would hold the same place in history for me.
Centering Kurri and Tikkanen was pretty amazing.
But you are changing the history of his career. You cannot hypothetically change the nationality of a 1961-born player without changing the other factors. Bottom line: Gretzky, born in 1961, does not come over until he's 28. Therefore, he doesn't play on those great Oiler teams, he doesn't win four Cups and two Conn Smythes, and he doesn't set all the single-season (regular season and playoffs) and career records. Period. And therefore, his jersey doesn't get retired league-wide, since he doesn't accomplish all that he accomplished.
Now, you can argue how different his career would be after he came over in 1989. He probably has a one-year adjustment period to life and hockey in North America, unless he's like Makarov and lucky enough to wind up on a successful, veteran-laden club like Calgary. He probably doesn't win the Art Ross in 1989-90. After that, who knows. Does he get hit from behind by Gary Suter in the 1991 Canada Cup? He doesn't have the wear and tear on his body from all those Cup runs in Edmonton, so maybe he plays beyond the 1999 season. And if he's Russian, does he put the same emphasis on the Stanley Cup? In the end, careers and legacies are formed based on how players do in the post-season. Gretzky could set all the records he wants, nobody would mention him as the best ever if he didn't win four Cups and dominate several other playoffs.
Maybe, if he was Russian, he would have grown up idolizing Kharlamov or Firsov instead of Howe. Therefore, he doesn't wear 9 during his minor hockey days, he doesn't switch to 99 in his junior days (he only switched to 99 because a teammate in Sault Ste. Marie wouldn't let Gretzky have 9). Maybe he wears 17 for Kharlamov (or 71 after the number was retired) or whatever number Firsov wore. Do you think the league would have retired No. 9 if that was Gretzky's number? No. They did it because there truly is only one #99.
Some of Gretzky's legacy stems from the fact he's Canadian. He IS a source of pride for many Canadians. If he was Russian he'd still be considered the best ever but not held up on a pedestal to the extent he is now.
Plus, when he came into the league the NHL still had a very good ole' boy brickheaded mentality towards Europeans. His first few years would have been very different (especially if he was Russian). However, I'm positive his brilliant play would have eventually won over teammates and fans alike.
If Gretzky had been Russian, his career probably would have turned out very differently even if he had entered into the NHL in 1979 at the age of 18. I hate making general pronouncements on people, but it seems like every Russian superstar has had problems remaining consistently productive at a level comensurate with their talent level over the course of an NHL career. Often you will have the underachieving guy who seems to have motivational issues.
Supremely talented players like Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Alexei Kovalev, Viktor Kozlov, Slava Kozlov, Sergei Samsonov, Valeri Kamensky, Alexei Yashin, Nikolai Zherdev, Alexei Morozov, Ilya Kovalchuk and now even Alexander Ovechkin have all underproduced at varying points in their careers. I'm sure there are different explanations for why each of them have put up disappointing numbers at one point or another or consistently failed to produce, but it seems like we've never had an offensive dynamo from Russia who could put it all together consistently over a long period of time. Maybe it's different priorities, maybe they don't value individual numbers as much, maybe it's motivation issues, I have no idea.
If it is cultural, we have to assume that a Russian Gretzky would probably have the same kind of mindset about him, and therefore probably wouldn't have put up the numbers that he did. And as we know, a large part of Gretzky's legacy is built on the fact that his numbers are so insanely dominant.
Since this is purely a hypothetical scenario, aren't we able to suppose that Gretzky were able to play in the NHL and have the exact same career as he had with the only change in his life being that he was born and grew up in Russia?
Now, if we purely hypothetically supposed this scenario, this discussion would be a lot different. For example, do you really think the NHL would retire his jersey league-wide if he was born and raised in Russia, had the exact same career starting out at the exact same time in the NHL as he actually did?
It doesn't have to be possible for us to hypothetically suppose it in a discussion, this is what our imagination is for.
Why must you change other factors? What if, hypothetically, he defected at age 17? That's what I understood the question to be -- if he had the same NHL career but was Russian.
He would have been in a Soviet system that stifled creativity and may have not had the freedom to develop his game as it ended up.
Actually, I think that his ancestors were from eastern Europe somewhere.
What sense is it supposed to make xplo? there is no Russian player ever in that type of ballpark over here in this league so why even bother asking it? This is supposed to make sense to me other then an invitation for two sides to line up and throw some verbal stones at each other?
Is jean beliveau a hero to long time followers whose interest is mainly the Russian league?
Why bother to ask,there is no Russian comparison in the nhl for Wayne Gretzky,that's just the way it is.
I recognise the sense it makes to you and how you would "get off on it" being asked,we all know what side of the fence you sit on.But make sense to me?.............no.
I f Wayne were Russian, there's no way he gets protected the way he did. Imagine a 170 pound 17 year old trying to come into the league today. Take Crosby for example. Guys are trying to go upside his head all the time. The late seventies were a much rougher time on the ice, political tensions were at high. I think he gets run regularly. I know he doesn't wind up with a whole wing in the HOF. As for retiring his number league wide, nobody else ever really wore that number anyway, because of the egotistic connotation it would have by implying you thought you were good enough to wear Gretzky's number. It's not like Bobby Orr's #4 which basically every team has someone wearing.
Exactly, and that's why we're supposing that he is russian in a purely hypothetical scenario to discuss "what if?". I don't see what's wrong with that, I think it's a very valid question to ask, since I'm sure a lot of things would've been different. Just don't post if you don't want to discuss it, there's a few people here who do.
Question: If Gretzky grew up in Russia, would he have worn 99? Highly unlikely. He only wore 99 because he couldn't wear 9. (His coach, Murray "Muzz" MacPherson, told Wayne, when he gave him 99 in the Soo, that since Wayne couldn't wear one 9, he could wear two). Does he want 9 so bad if he's growing up in Russia? Probably not, unless the Gordie Howe of Russian hockey wore 9.
The reason it's retired league-wide is because it's 99. Maybe if Gretzky wore 4 or 9, they might have retired it league-wide as well, simply because of all the greats who wore 4 and 9. But if Wayne wore 12 or 18 or 22 or 27, it would not have been retired league-wide. Because it's such a unique number in the history of the game, and it was worn by the player who had arguably the greatest career in NHL history, and likely had the biggest off-ice impact of any player in NHL history, that's why it's retired.
hed be lazy
I'm sure you would,though i doubt you would find any talk the other way around quite so valid.
And i do want to dicuss it,if i did'nt i would'nt be posting on it.If you don't like what i have to say about it..........don't read my posts on it.Clearly you have'nt been crazy about them so far so why bother?
That's my point,it's an invitation for a fight.........not much else.
i can't help it he's not Russian like you want him to be.The league has never had a Russian player in his ballpark,why retire their numbers league wide?
He's Wayne gretzky,the most visable and biggest star the game has probably ever seen.If the league wants to honour him,don't be surprised.
Again you're changing other factors. Why not just stick with that everything is the same except his nationality?
So you do believe that it would've been retired even if he was Russian?
No I generally don't like your posts since we have very different views on hockey culture & history. But it would be pretty useless to have a forum in which every member has the same views on everything, don't you think? What I'm questioning is why you're even posting here since you don't want to take part in what the thread is about (hypothetically supposing that Gretzky is Russian).
I don't want Gretzky to be Russian. Who's "their"? We're talking about Gretzky here. As I've said, since there is no Russian player to compare with this is purely hypothetical.
Wayne played a very 'Soviet' style game as opposed to your typical north/south, dump-in, physical style that was more prevalent in the NHL back then.
He and Larionov were very similar in style.
"Definitely, he saw the ice the same as me, passing the puck, hockey sense, probably as similar to me as any player who has played the game." - Wayne Gretzky speaking about Igor Larionov
And i don't generally like yours for the same reasons.
But you're right,there is no comparable Russian player.So what's the point? we'll only get the answer when/if a player of that stature from Russia arrives.Whoever he is or may be he has'nt lived on this earth yet.