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02-10-2013, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by revolverjgw View Post
There IS something to it, though. You look at the goal scoring arcs of every other of the top career goal scorers, you won't find another that dropped anywhere near as much as Gretzky, who was done as a great scorer by 28. It's even more jarring because he was so much more dominant than the rest of them at his peak. Everybody else carried on as top scorers into the their 30s, even late 30s. Even Yzerman, the only other guy that never hit the top 10 again after 28, was a goal away from being a top 10 scorer at 35 after changing his game drastically.

It can not simply be explained away by injury and natural decline, not when Gretzky is such a big outlier here, stick out like a sore thumb as THE only guy with such an extreme swing as the style of the game changed so rapidly. This affected peers like Messier and even Gartner less (better goal scoring skillsets for a more modern game, really, less reliant on a slapshot as the key in their shot selection). Lots of these guys got injured. They all played tons of hockey, most of them more physically demanding brands of hockey.
But Gretzky's decline began before the change in game really. I'm not saying that changes in the game didn't have an impact, but honestly... he already has the most 40+ goal seasons in history and is tied with Bossy for the most 50+ seasons. Was he just supposed to keep scoring 50+ goals a year until he retired? His longevity as a goal scorer is amazing IMO, but no one scores like that forever. Ovechkin is one of the greatest goalscorers I've ever seen at his peak, but his window of dominance was only 1/3 as long as Gretzky's.

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