Skip to content

Fanspeak: Gretzky (surprise!) voted greatest Oiler in franchise history

Aug 14, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

Wayne Gretzky, 1988 Edmonton Oilers Getty Images

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Edmonton Oilers

1. Wayne Gretzky (2,437)

2. Mark Messier (270)


The massive gap between No. 1 and 2 on this list goes a long way in illustrating Gretzky’s greatness (also, the fact he was named the greatest Los Angeles King as well.) No. 99’s run of dominance with the Oilers will probably never be repeated. Okay, it never will. Just consider what he accomplished from his NHL debut (in 1979-80) to his final season in Edmonton (1987-88):

— Eight Hart Trophies as league MVP

— Four Stanley Cups

— Two Conn Smythe trophies as playoff MVP

— Four 200-point seasons (the only player in NHL history to ever crack the 200-point plateau)

As far as single-season records that defy logic and convention, I’ve cherry-picked three:

1) Scoring 92 goals in 80 games during the 1981-82 campaign. This was the same year Gretzky hit the 50-goal plateau in his 39th game of the season and recorded 10 hat-tricks.

“If he scored one goal, he wanted two,” Oilers president of hockey ops Kevin Lowe told “If he scored two, he wanted three. He always wanted more. All stars have a love for the game. What separates players like Wayne is the passion — he’s like Michael Jordan. They take it to the next level.”

2) Scoring 215 points in 80 games in 1985-86. Edmonton scored 426 goals that year, meaning Gretzky was in on more than 50 percent of the team’s offense. This was the same year Gretzky shattered his own record for most assists in a single season, with 163; nobody has even come close to touching that (the closest was Mario Lemieux’s 114 during the 1988-89 campaign.)

3) The 1984-85 Stanley Cup playoffs. Gretzky scored 47 points in 18 games and had 17 goals on 67 shots — a shooting percentage of twenty-five. The 47 points still stand as a single-playoff high in NHL history.

Greatest Oiler of all time, and it’s a no-brainer.

  1. jaguar0413 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    What about Ryan Smyth?

    • bullwinkle88 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      I was hoping for Dubnyk.

      • jaguar0413 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Nail Yakupov???

  2. jinx21fan - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:10 PM

    I demand a re-count!

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Someone threw away all the votes for Dave Semenko. Call the RCMP!!!

  3. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    But seriously, Gretzky didn’t “take it to the next level”. He took it well beyond the next level and found one no one had known even existed. That 1985-86 season, his 163 assists (just over 2 a game) would have won him the Art Ross Trophy had he not scored a single goal (he scored 52 of them, his fewest since his first NHL season when he’d scored only 51).

  4. adamal17 - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    There’s a reason (aside from baseball…which does it as a publicity ploy with 42 IMHO) that he’s the only player in any major sport to have their number universally retired across the league. It’s not like this was ever a competition.

  5. 67nova - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    I grew up in SoCal and used to wear my #99 Oilers jersey to high school when no one knew who he was or what sport it was from. My allegiances got traded to the Kings when he did and I’ve been a Kings fan ever since. I got to see him play in person too many times to count and that spoils you. Every time he touched the puck you expected him to score, or Kurri to score of a beautiful pass. Hockey just isn’t the same anymore and I think it is difficult for anyone who wasn’t around to see him in his prime to realize how truly dominant he was.

    If he had stayed in Edmonton, they may have won 3 or 4 more Cups than they did.

  6. mzim2756 - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Messier is definitely 2nd but he has 2 things they Gretzky does not have. A ring fro Edmonton without Wayne and a ring with another team. Gretzky is the greatest player but Messier is the greatest leader

  7. creamyhamstrings - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Shawn Horcoff?

  8. Wineshard - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    As a Canucks fan I hated him because it seemed every major record was against the Canucks. Towards the end of his career I came around and now consider him one of Canada’s Saints. True Canadian good guy.

    Glad I still held on to his rookie card and didn’t put it in my bike’s spokes out of spite.

  9. malinpaul - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    I like this question – whose on the All Oiler team say for forwards:

    Tiks – Gretz – Kurri
    Nilsson – Mess – Anderson
    Hall – Weight – Arnott
    Smyth – Nichols – Carson

    • rainyday56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:25 AM

      Shouldn’t Hall play on a winning Oilers team before he makes that list?

  10. c1md6 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Mess definitely deserves more credit, especially after Gretzky was traded he still win a cup with that Edmonton team. I agree with MZIM, Gretzky was the better player but no one is a better leader than Mess. What an amazing problem that must be to have, “who’s a the best player for my favorite team, Mark Messier or Wayne Gretzky (both in their primes).”

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1773)
  2. P. Kane (1276)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1247)
  4. M. Richards (1096)
  5. M. Giordano (1094)