Great One vs. Great Eight: Gretzky, Ovechkin to play NHL 20 for COVID-19 relief

Alex Ovechkin posted a picture of Wayne Gretzky and himself on his Instagram account.

It’s a matchup that pits the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer against arguably the greatest goal scorer of all-time.

The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, and the Great Eight, Alex Ovechkin, are slated to go head-to-head in an NHL 20 tilt, broadcast live on the Washington Capitals’ Twitch channel on April 22, with all proceeds going toward COVID-19 relief efforts. Specifically, the showcase will benefit the Edmonton Food Bank and MSE Foundation’s “Feeding the Frontlines.”

Fans will be able to tune in, make donations during the tilt and see whose goal-scoring prowess translates from the ice to the virtual world. Gretzky and Ovechkin will face off in a best-of-three competition on Xbox One.

Gretzky told the Washington Post‘s Scott Allen that he was excited to use Ovechkin’s pursuit of his all-time goals mark of 894 (the Russian winger sits at 706) as a jumping-off point to raise funds amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s been so much talk about the goal record, so there’s a nice link between Alex and myself,” Gretzky said, per Allen.

“I thought we could do something that people could watch and help raise money for those who need it.”

But every great goal scorer needs a playmaker, and for next week’s tilt, Gretzky will be paired up with his 19-year-old son, Tristan, while esports pro John “JohnWayne” Casagranda — the runner-up at the second annual NHL Gaming World Championship last June — will sub in for Ovechkin’s usual pivot, Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovechkin and Gretzky will probably need the help, as the Capitals winger is more of an avid Call of Duty and Fortnite player, and the 59-year-old Gretzky has only played NHL 20 a few times.

“Obviously, we’re a little better when we have our skates on and a hockey stick in our hands than we are when we have controllers, but it’s not about that,” Gretzky told the Washington Post.

“It’s more about the ability to help people that are less fortunate and for fans to enjoy a night of us not looking very talented at what we’re doing. It’ll be a fun night for a good cause. We’re not looking to replace the NHL because we all want to see guys like Alex and Sidney (Crosby) and (Connor) McDavid back on the ice. That’s what really excites fans.”

That doesn’t mean the four-time Stanley Cup winner and most decorated player in NHL history doesn’t want another notch in his belt.

“My dad always said, ‘If you’re going to play, you might as well win.'”

In addition to the charity series, Gretzky and Ovechkin will sit down for the next edition of #HockeyAtHome in their first-ever, joint, sit-down interview on April 20, which will be shown on Sportsnet.


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