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Ovechkin's Caps and Gretzky's Oilers

One post comparing Ovechkin's Caps to Gretzky's Oilers was probably enough, but it's kind of a slow time in D.C. sports, so what the heck. Plus,

"You learn from losing, as crazy as it sounds and as much as you don't want to admit to it," Gretzky said during a recent Washington Post Live appearance. "You really do become a better player and a better team when you lose in tough situations."

And yes, there are major problems with making such a comparison. In his third playoff season, Gretzky was still three years younger than Ovechkin is now, for example, and the NHL was a completely different league. Still, this is a bit weird.

Gretzky's first playoff run: Lost in the first round to the Flyers.

Ovechkin's first playoff run: Lost in the first round to the Flyers.

Gretzky's second playoff run: Won in the first round, then lost in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champs.

Ovechkin's second playoff run: Won in the first round, then lost in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champs.

Gretzky's third regular season: His team won its conference, finishing with 17 more points than the runners-up. His team led the NHL in scoring by a wide margin; they were the only group to reach 400 goals.

Ovechkin's third regular season: His team won its conference, finishing with 18 more points than the runners-up. His team led the NHL in scoring by a wide margin; they were the only group to reach 300 goals.

Gretzky's team's strengths and weaknesses: I'll quote from the Globe and Mail, which called the Oilers "the most awesome scoring machine in NHL history" and opined that a relatively weak conference "should let the Oilers get to the final healthy and well-rested." On the other hand, "No team this young has won a Stanley Cup in living memory. Rivals still question the Oilers' ability to cope with a close-checking opponent and wonder whether they sacrifice too much on defense to score all those goals."

Ovechkin's team's strengths and weaknesses: Eh, just see above.

Gretzky's pre-playoff rhetoric: "It's been a spectacular season for the team and for me. I'm happy with my individual performance, but the most important goal lies ahead - winning the Stanley Cup. That's all that counts now. The playoffs are really a new season and all the records and statistics in the regular schedule don't mean a thing now. We have to go out and prove ourselves all over again. I'm confident we can do it.''

Ovechkin's pre-playoff rhetoric: "I don't want to prove anything in particular, I just want to win. if I don't play well and the team win, I don't care what people say because I just want to win....I'm not angry about personal stats, personal awards. I want team awards."

Gretzky's coach's pre-playoff rhetoric: "Our team has Stanley Cup on its mind and they are fired up for the playoffs."

Ovechkin's coach's pre-playoff rhetoric: "Our only goal this year has been the Stanley Cup, and if we don't win it, we'll be disappointed."

Gretzky's first-round opponent: The Kings, who finished 17th overall in the league standings.

Ovechkin's first-round opponent: The Canadiens, who finished tied for 18th overall in the league standings.

Gretzky's third playoff run: Split the first two games at home, went down to a deciding game at home, fell behind 2-0, and lost, amid national shock.

Ovechkin's third playoff run: Split the first two games at home, went down to a deciding game at home, fell behind 2-0, and lost, amid national shock.

Gretzky's post-playoff rhetoric: "It takes a big man to face his mistakes," he said. "It takes a bigger man to correct his mistakes. We'll do that next year." Then he went to Europe to compete in the world championships.

Ovechkin's post-playoff rhetoric: "We all played great in season, but in the playoffs something missed," he said. "We just have to concentrate more about playoffs, more about how we have to play in the playoffs, not about [regular] seasons....You just wait [for the] next opportunity to win." Then he went to Europe to compete in the world championships.

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 4, 2010; 10:02 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

interesting indeed...I just hope we can still compare their accomplishments at the end of OVI career.

Posted by: ttn703 | May 4, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

interesting indeed...I just hope we can still compare their accomplishments at the end of OVI career.

Posted by: ttn703

why are you even talking about the end of Ovi's career already? seriously.

Posted by: beaupre33 | May 4, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think all that this shows is that in the past 28 years players and coaches say basically the same exact thing.

I bet you can find some SC favorite from the 1940s that choked and find player and coach quotes and they will basically be the same thing too.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | May 4, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I had a feeling the current Caps had a eerily similar development experience as the 80's Oilers.

Thanks for putting this together Dan!

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 4, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

While our Caps have a Gretzky-ish scorer in Ovy (by today's standards; it's doubtful the Great One could get 92 goals/120 assists in today's NHL), a Paul Coffey-ish D in Green, and a Jari Kuri type center in Backstrom, maybe what we're missing is a Mark Messier- type to tie that altogether.

It gives us some hope, it just stinks we have to wait so long for the Caps to get another shot at defeating playoff demons again.

Posted by: blackjack65 | May 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

My bad, Kuri wasn't a center. There goes my theory...

Posted by: blackjack65 | May 4, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Love it. But, at the same time -- the only thing out of any Capitals' mouth should be:

"We're sorry. We screwed up. We'll do our damndest to make sure it never happens again"

I don't want to hear about Gretzky, or Lemieux, or Jordan, or Stevey Y.

The Caps choked. And until they get it done in the playoffs - they have to live with choking.

I guarantee you that Gretzky, Lemieux, Jordan, or Stevey Y took their choking like men and didn't try to spin the fanbase by pointing to other champions who took a few years to win.

Posted by: CF11555 | May 4, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Great comparison. The Caps are a great team and will be for years to come. Changes aren't needed--perseverance is.

Posted by: awfula | May 4, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Patience.

Hate losing. Don't fear losing. Perfection at all times.

Posted by: pdo3 | May 4, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Patience is the word. In a span of 29 months this team was the worst in the nhl and now finished the regular season as the best. Thats progress on any level. Go find me a companies stock that jumps that drastically in 29 months. Can someone say we have a winner! A dissapointing end to the season but in terms of the big picture people need to look at how much has changed in a very short period of time. Only the idiots that know little about sports will say this team is headed in the wrong direction.

Posted by: dc_sports_md_va | May 4, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

One MAJOR difference between the Oilers of the 1980s and the Capitals--or, really, any NHL team--of today is the salary cap, which didn't exist back then. It was, in theory, easier to keep a dynasty together, although I suppose it's also fair to remember that the Oilers played (and still play) in the league's smallest market, so that might balance out the cap issue to some degree.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 4, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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