The Great One holds 61 NHL records, including career marks in points (2,857), goals (894) and assists (1,963); nine times he was named league MVP.
"During the six seasons from 1981-82 through '86-87, Gretzky averaged 203 points per year. What was he doing, bowling?"
—E.M. SWIFT SI, April 26, 1999
His ability to control the game from the backline forever changed the role of defensemen; he was named the NHL's MVP three consecutive seasons and the league's top defenseman eight straight years.
"When Bobby starts away on one of his rink-length rushes, the Garden—and any other arena—has an electric feeling. 'When he goes by my bench,' says [ Toronto coach] Punch Imlach, 'I turn away so I won't have to watch.' "
—MARK MULVOY SI, Feb. 3, 1969
The Rocket, the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games (1944-45), led Montreal to eight Stanley Cups and retired in 1960 as the NHL's alltime leader in goals (544).
"When Richard scores in the Forum...it touches off a unique celebration.... Newspapers, programs, galoshes, hats are thrown onto the ice. Richard skates in abstracted, embarrassed, lonely circles through the heavy snow of objects. The game has to be stopped until the attendants clear the ice."
—GILBERT ROGIN SI, March 21, 1960