As Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin takes a look at some of the unbreakable sports records
“I think a thousand goals are possible for him, especially after what we saw tonight,” BK Suban, a former NHL defensive tackle and ESPN analyst, said this month after Ovechkin scored a hat-trick to become the third player in NHL history to reach the 800-goal milestone. Objectives. “…I have no doubt it can be as many as 900, but I think there are a thousand. Why not?”
Before 800 goals, Alex Ovechkin was a rookie in need of a roommate
A thousand goals may be ambitious, but 895 is achievable for the 37-year-old Ovechkin, who has just passed Gordie Howe for second on the all-time list.
As the Great Eight continue their quest for the Great One, here’s a look at several other records from the four big professional sports that have been deemed – or were once considered – unbreakable.
Wayne Gretzky had 2,857 points
He shot 894 and Gretzky will still hold the NHL record for points thanks to his 1,963 career assists in 1,487 games. With 1,921 points in 246 other games, Jaromir Jagr ranks second by far on the career list.
“For me, it’s like number one,” Jagger said after passing Marc Messier for second in December 2016. “I don’t really count Wayne Gretzky. He was from another planet. I don’t think he was from this planet. Whatever he did, he’s unbreakable.”
Martin Brodeur’s Close 125
For years after his retirement in 1970, goaltender Terry Sawchuck’s record of 445 victories seemed untouchable. Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche great Patrick Roy broke the sawchuck mark in 2000, and Brodeur has surpassed both, ending his 23-year career in 2015 with 691 wins.
It’s Brodeur’s lockout record, though, that seems to be the safest. While seven guards now have more wins than Sawchuk, only Brodeur has surpassed 103 shootouts. The closest active goalkeeper is 38-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury with 72.
Cy Young’s 749 Complete Games
Unless Rob Manfred or a future commissioner shortens the games to six innings or robot umpires eventually call balls and putts to robot pitchers, no one will challenge this century-old mark. Consider this: MLB pitchers combined for 36 complete games in 2022. Young has pitched at least 36 complete games in 11 of his 22 seasons, and finished with 103 more complete games than Pud Galvin, who ranks second on the list.
The leader in complete games among active pitchers is St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright with 28. Young’s numbers for starts (815), wins (511) and losses (315) are probably untouchable as well.
2,632 consecutive games for Cal Ripken Jr
Lou Gehrig’s unbreakable streak of 2,130 consecutive games played lasted for 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 it was “time” to take the day off.
“This is one record that I think will be around for a generation,” said then-commissioner Bud Selig.
Combine consecutive matches played for two players with the longest third and fourth streaks (Everett Scott and Steve Garvey, respectively) and Ripken’s score doesn’t equal. The longest streak since Ripken ended belongs to Miguel Tejada, who played in 1,152 consecutive games from 2000 to 2007.
John Stockton has 15,806 assists
Stockton led the league in nine straight seasons from 1987-88 to 1995-96. The Utah Jazz legend caught 3,715 more passes than Jason Kidd, who retired in 2013 at number two on the all-time list. 37-year-old Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul averaged 10 assists per game over an entire season over the next five years and still didn’t pass Stockton. Paul is averaging 9.1 assists this season but has been limited to 18 games due to a heel injury.
“I don’t like to say never, but nobody really gets that,” Paul said in 2019.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387 points
Wilt Chamberlain still owns many unbreakable records, including career rebounds (23,924) and points per game (100), but Abdul-Jabbar passed him to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on April 5, 1984, and he played five more seasons.
A knee injury in Karl Malone’s 40-year-old season derailed his quest to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record, prompting him to retire 1,459 points short of the mark in 2005. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who passed Malone in March and reports Averaged 27 points. In his 38-year-old season, he’s on pace to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record in February.
James said, “To sit here and know I’m about to break the most sought-after NBA record, and things that people say are never going to happen, I think is just so humbling to me.” September.
From 2020: Any discussion of goats has to include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Emmitt Smith 18,355 rushing yards
Smith ran 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 as a 35-year-old with the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.
“I don’t know how long it will last,” Smith said after breaking Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton’s record of 16,726 yards in 2002. “The game is still evolving.”
The offenses have become more traffic-oriented in the 20 years since, increasing the likelihood that Smith’s record will last forever.
“Nobody’s ever going to break that record,” said Ladinian Tomlinson, who retired about 5,000 yards short of Smith’s mark this year. “There are not enough opportunities that the contestants will have.”
Jerry Rice 197 receiving touchdown
As with Gretzky and Young, Rice’s resume includes several records that could be considered unbreakable, including 1,549 catches and 22,895 yards. Even with the passing prevalence in the NFL today — the teams combined for 694 touchdowns in 2002 and 840 last season — Rice’s touchdown record cannot be surpassed anytime soon, if ever.
Randy Moss, who broke Rice’s single-season record with 23 in 2007, retired 41 touchdowns shy of the Rice career record in 2012. Rice had 118 points in the same career.
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