What if Gretzky didn’t retire in 1999?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by TheGuiminator, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Right, but even though he was cooked and done, I don't think he was quite ready for the third line. That last season, he still led the Rangers in scoring and had the highest PPG on the team. He also had the highest ice-time for forwards, but that may have more to do with John Muckler's being head coach than with Gretzky's merit.
    Yes, and in fact back in the mid- to late-80s it was commonly understood that Gretzky would retire young. My hockey guidebook that followed the 1986-87 season says (of Gretzky): "impossible to imagine him playing past his 30th birthday". (I think this was thought largely because of his fear of flying.)

    Gretzky also seemed to strongly dislike the "farewell tour" kind of retirement that people like Larry Robinson (Wayne's teammate at the time) did.
     
  2. Bluefan75

    Bluefan75 Registered User

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    That's why he waited so long to announce it, because he knew it would turn into what it did. Didn't it take his dad to convince him to announce it so people could say goodbye?

    I recall at the time someone saying they didn't understand the fuss, he was just a hockey player. And age has softened me on this stance, but my response was, if that is all he was, why does a crowd in a city he played maybe a couple dozen games in in his life draw him out three times for a curtain call? I can see why he wouldn't want to do that every road game.

    As for OP, I can't imagine him going much longer than he did. If Suter doesn't hit him, maybe, but then again, a lot of other questions are put to bed forever if he doesn't. But between his injuries, and the clutch and grab of the era, I don't see it. Wishful thinking, IMHO.
     
  3. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    I don't think Gretzky had any chance at another art ross. I think based on what I saw of him in the last years he was still good (obviously) but certainly not dominating enough to be at the top of the league in that sense. I suppose the 2000 Art Ross isn't completely impossible - only 96 points (63 games for Jagr) - he is Gretzky after all.

    2001 is an obvious no, too high scoring.
    And by 2002 he was 41-42? No chance, even though that year wasn't too high scoring.

    I do think the real magic for Gretzky could have been playoffs though. He's the best playoff performer ever, and the most clutch big game/big tournament performer in the history of the game - put him on a contender (say Colorado like some suggested) and he very very much could have been a difference maker enough to push them to a couple more championships.

    In terms of how many points/goals he ends his career with....not sure. I don't think Gretzky would have cared for the milestones that much (3000 points, 1000 goals). It was very important for him to be #1 - so if Howe had the record at 1000 goals, I guarantee he'd have gone for it - but with 894 he was already #1, so i don't think the actual 1000 number made much of a difference, so he wouldn't have played longer for it.
     
  4. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Not that he doesn't have enough numbers and records, but it's a pity Wayne couldn't crack 900 goals. I suppose he would have but for the '94 work stoppage (just six goals short).

    I'm not that bothered by whatever Gretzky did post-autumn 1991, but I sometimes like to imagine a parallel universe where he went to Detroit instead of St.Louis in about 1995, and then played out his last few years there.
     
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  5. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    If I was him I probably would of stuck around an extra season just to try for 900
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  6. mrhockey193195

    mrhockey193195 Registered User

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    As tantalizing as that hypothetical is, Gretzky in NY is the main reason I'm a hockey fan today, so I'm glad it turned out the way it did. :D
     
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  7. Albatros

    Albatros Registered User

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    Having a static pair of hands play with Bure would only have been absurd. Gretzky's expiry date had already passed when he called it a career and no extension was realistic.
     
  8. Bluefan75

    Bluefan75 Registered User

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    Well I know he has stated his biggest regret in his career was not trying harder for 100 goals when he scored 92. So I'm not sure it's fair to say milestones didn't motivate him.
     
  9. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Just a random Gretzky fact: During the 1983-84 season, he won the scoring title on January 7th. That was five days ago...
     
  10. Mbraunm

    Mbraunm Registered User

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    Ever since the Suter injury in 91, Gretzky’s agility in tight areas and 2 acceleration was never the same. Add to that osteoarthritis in his neck, he was more than finished by 1998.
    He wouldn’t have survived into the 2000s.
     
  11. boredmale

    boredmale Registered User Sponsor

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    If he didn't retire in 1999 he probably would get another 70 points and retire in 2000
     
  12. Speedtrials

    Speedtrials Registered User

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    Yeah I remember Gretzky saying something along the lines of players from the other team giving him a heads up, so he didn't get hit hard. It's still amazing the numbers he put up, with how he was feeling and his supporting cast. However, there is no way I could see him playing another 4-5 years at that point.
     
  13. Stephen

    Stephen Registered User

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    The question is, would Gretzky himself have any interest as a third line player in an Igor Larionov role for no reason other than to keep going a little longer?
     
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  14. Iron Mike Sharpe

    Iron Mike Sharpe Registered User

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    If his back was still healthy and he played on a team other than the Avs where he would've been in a 1-2 spot, he could've maintained at least a PPG pace for a few more years. I just can't see him in a number three role putting up the numbers. Kariya & Selanne didn't exactly thrive offensively as third liners in Colorado, so it's likely that Gretzky would've been in the same scenario of simply not having enough ice time to put up sexy numbers.
     
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  15. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    I'm pretty sure if the Rangers were a contender with lots of offensive depth, or if Gretzky had been playing on another team that was right at the top, he would have played, say, one more season (1999-2000). But that would have been it, even in a best-case scenario.

    It's a bit sad to me that both Gretzky and Messier (and Coffey, to an extent) ended their careers on such pitiful, losing teams. With Gretz, it's not so bad, because it was just the '98 and '99 seasons, but then he also lost at the '98 Olympics. With Messier, the last seven seasons of his career were all pretty bad (though 1999-00 in Van wasn't awful), so that was unfortunate.

    I must say, I do not understand what Neil Smith (was it still him?) had in mind for the Rangers circa 1997 to 2000. After making those short-term fix trades (to win the Cup) and losing young assets like Weight and Amonte, the Rangers in the late-90s really needed to develop via the draft and build from the ground up. But they seemed to endlessly chase veteran free-agents. I also don't get why they didn't keep Mark Messier in '97.
     
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  16. Vanzig

    Vanzig Registered User

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    Lets face it, Gretzky was hurt and played on a crappy team, like the rangers sucked, he even said “Had the rangers traded for BURE he would have played one more year”

    Playing with NIKLAS SUNDSTROM as yer team sniper just isn’t fun and rewarding, I have about 100 ranger games on vhs/DVD and man that last year the team was brutal, SUNDSTROM was missing huge easy tap ins almost nightly.

    I wish Gretz went to Detroit, Dallas or Colorado for a last cup run instead of rotting on that team. But he went out with class and the highest and best scorer in nhl History with 60 Official Records and 0ver 200+ (Official and Unofficial NHL RECORDS).
     
  17. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Welcome to Connor McDavid's world...
     
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  18. Howie Hodge

    Howie Hodge I Am The Walrus

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    A bit like wanting Gordie Howe to play a couple more seasons. They hit the wall that time puts up on all of us at some point, and they knew it.

    Conversely, I thought Ray Bourque, Nik Lidstrom, and Denis Potvin could likely have played another season or two. But they didn't, and probably wisely knew their time was about up.

    Better to have people thinking you could have continued, than to play, and them knowing you should have hung them up earlier.....
     
  19. CharlestownChiefsESC

    CharlestownChiefsESC Registered User

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    I've always wondered what would have happened had that Sakic deal not fallen through and they brought in Shanahan in 95. Im thinking Gretzky might have had a chance to go out on top. A Gretzky Sakic Shanahan power play with Leetch qbing would have been lethal.




    If you look at the drafts from 97 to about 03 they were pretty bad, in 99 they even moved up to grab Brendl as part of a so called rebuild and well we all know how that turned out. In 97 Smith knew Messier was done. If yoiu look at his playoffs in 97 he was ok vs Florida but pretty much disappeared against the Devils and Flyers. At that time Smith knew that at 36 years old Messier would only depreciate more and more. Also Messier was constantly in Smiths ear post 94 about what players he needed to get and IMHO maybe why that team couldn't win another cup in the 90s. I loved Messier on the ice, but can you blame Smith for letting him go because his game went south and his off ice behavior would only get worse.
     
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  20. DannyGallivan

    DannyGallivan Your world frightens and confuses me

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    I think you're being very generous. Gretzky left at a good time. He lost a step, it was the dead-puck era, and he couldn't score anymore. Perhaps he could have been used as a power play set-up specialist. I think he would have been effective in that kind of role.
     

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