What were you doing 30 years ago today? I can tell you what Wayne Gretzky was doing, capping off one of the greatest records in hockey history. December 30th1981, The Great One pots 5 goals against the Flyers to score 50 goals in just 39 games. The only player to even come close to breaking it was…well…Wayne himself (he scored 50 goals in 42 games in 1983-84) . But every time people talk about it, the only thing discussed is that 5 goal game. I understand it was exciting and to cap it off with an empty net goal with under 5 seconds left made it that much better. However, there are a lot of other interesting facts about the first 39 games of the 1981-82 season that for the most part, get completely ignored. Not by me!
Here are 15 facts about that season, the record, and The Great One
1) Gretzky got off to a slow start. He didn’t score in the first two games of the season (Then he scored a goal in 5 straight games)
2) There was a stretch four games (games 27-30) where he was held goalless.
3) Of the 39 games, there were 11 where he did not score a goal. The Oilers had a win, loss and 2 ties during that span and Wayne was hardly in what you would call a slump. He had 10 assists.
4) Of those 11 goalless game, three of them came against the Canucks. Richard Brodeur was in net for 2, while Glen Hanlon was between the pipes for the other.
5) Gretzky had 4 different games where he scored 4 or more goals. That includes the game most people ignore. In Game #38 against LA. Gretzky scored 4 goals which means he scored 9 goals in the final 2 games.
6) If Wayne never played another game that season, he would have finished tied for 7th in goals and 8th in points
Ok I lied, we’ll talk about game #39
7) Don Cherry was the colour man for the historic game
8) Gretzky also had an assist in that game (goal scored by Paul Coffey)
8) When Gretzky scored the 50th goal, 5 of the 6 Oilers on the ice were future Hall of Famers (Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Glen Anderson, Grant Fuhr). The only non HOF’er was Lee Fogolin.
9) Mark Messier was the Oiler who tackled Gretzky after the goal was scored
10) Bill Barber was the Flyer who dove to try and stop goal #50
11) Leaf fans will love this one. The referee for that game: Kerry Fraser
12) Gretzky had 11 shots in the game
13) His 3rd goal came just 10 seconds after Reggie Leach cut the lead to one.
14) Final score of that game was 7-5 Oilers…with ZERO power plays.
15) Finally…the night after he made history by scoring those 5 epic goals….he was held off the score sheet
Happy 30th anniversary Wayne, see you December 30th 2041