On this day 26 years ago, hockey history was made.
March 23, 1994 saw Wayne Gretzky pass his idol, Gordie Howe, to claim the record for all-time goals scored when he registered No. 802.
That historic marker came on home ice before a sellout crowd against the Vancouver Canucks, with Howe himself in attendance.
In 2016, Gretzky talked to NHL.com about the milestone moment, sharing some of his favourite memories from that time.
“One of the greatest parts of 802 was I got to spend a lot of time with Gordie and his wife Colleen because Gordie was following me around,” Gretzky said. “A lot of times when you meet your idol, you’re somewhat taken aback or disappointed. For me, when I met Gordie, he was bigger and better than I thought.
“When I had an opportunity to be around his record and break his record, I found it really fascinating to be around him, ask him questions and talk about stories.”
Gretzky also broke down the give-and-go goal, which came at 14:47 of the second period of the game, highlighting the roles that teammates Marty McSorley and Luc Robitaille played:
“Luc made a nice play to Marty and Marty made a really nice play to me to get me the puck and I basically had an empty net to throw it into,” Gretzky said. “If you look at the play, [McSorley] made such a good play that everybody, defense and the goalie [Kirk McLean], were over this way. I don’t think Marty could have drawn it up better.”
McSorely also recounted the goal, over two decades later.
“People always say to me, ‘You were responsible for the record.’ No. I feel zero responsibility because Wayne is going to break the record,” McSorely told NHL.com. “Somebody is going to assist on it and it was a real pleasure that it was me that got that honour.”
It took Gretzky 15 seasons to reach the record, compared to Howe’s 26 campaigns to set the 801-goal mark. Gretzky would, of course, go on to score 92 more times before retiring with 894 goals to his name and 2,857 career points. Both records still stand.