Media Puck-Up’s: Prime Numbers


Alex Ovechkin hit the 60 goal mark at age 22.  Sidney Crosby is a scoring machine and he hasn’t even hit puberty. Steven Stamkos is scoring more than Emmit Smith playing Dance Dance Revolution.  Imagine what these guys will do when they hit their prime! Well, maybe they already have.

Here are the top 10 goal scorers in NHL history, along with their best goal scoring season.

  • Wayne Gretzky: 92 Goals, age 21
  • Gordie Howe: 49 Goals, age 24
  • Brett Hull: 86 Goals, age 26
  • Marcel Dionne: 59 Goals, age 27
  • Phil Esposito: 76 Goals, age 29
  • Mike Gartner: 49 Goals, age 31
  • Mark Messier: 50 Goals, age 22
  • Steve Yzerman: 65 Goals, age 23
  • Mario Lemieux: 85 Goals, age 23
  • Luc Robitaille: 63 Goals, age 27

Half the guys set their personal best prior to turning 25, half did it after. Ovi is 25, Sid is 23, and SS is 21. Judging by this season alone, it seems like The Great 8 is already on a downward spiral and will never match his numbers again.  Crosby was on pace for a career year, but now that he’s hurt, who knows if he’ll be able to put up these numbers again?  Stamkos still has the potential to peak in the next few seasons. What’s my point in all of this? Well, the trading deadline is looming on February 19th. And of course, rumors will fly, and the most coveted guys will be the ones in their late 20’s, because that’s considered the prime of a players career.

However, what most of the talking heads will be yelling about a player’s goal scoring prowess, they’ll be mostly feeding you nonsense. Let’s look at Marian Hossa, for example. He’s known as a goalscorer, and so he was traded for at the 2008 trade deadline. And he helped Pittsburgh get to the finals, where they lost. In the offseason, Detroit signed him to add some scoring, and yet they lost in the finals. Then he went to Chicago, where he was finally part of a winner. And each time he moved teams, the media talked about what kind of a scorer he is. Yet, his biggest single season total amongst all this movement was a 40 goal season in Detroit. His peak came way back in 2002-03 with Ottawa, when he scored 45 times. Since then, the closest he came was in 2006-07 with Atlanta. I’m not saying he was a useless player. But he’s not living up to the media hype at all.

So before my point gets lost, here it is: when you trade for a player in their prime, rarely can you expect them to be goal scoring machine. A player entering their prime will be better all around, and should theoretically make a team better overall. But they will not compete for Rocket Richard trophies. And that’s the biggest media puck-up. They build guys up, feeding fans the wrong information, and then we get depressed when guys don’t live up to the hype.

So as deadline coverage heats up, remember, you’re favorite team might get a big name, but don’t expect the past goal scoring feats to follow them. Unless of course you get the next Gordie Howe. His best goal scoring season came at age 24, but he nearly matched it age 40.

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