Wednesday, April 24, 2013
On this date in 1989, the Los Angeles Kings Wayne Gretzky scored his 86th career playoff goal, making him the leading goal scorer in playoff history, passing Mike Bossy's 85, in a 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames.
Gretzky's first NHL season came in 1979-80 following his Edmonton Oilers being absorbed by the NHL. He would score 2 goals in 3 games to begin his assault on the record. The following season saw the Oilers advance to the second round for the first time and gain 9 games of playoff experience in which Gretzky would add 7 goals. A quick exit the following season limited Gretzky to just 5 playoff games in which he would score 5 goals.
The 1983 playoffs would begin a remarkable period in Stanley Cup playoff history, as the Oilers would advance to the finals for the first time, playing 16 games along the way. It was the first of seven consecutive seasons in which the Gretzky would play a minimum of 10 post-season games, and often upwards of 16 with a high of 21 in 1987, giving Gretzky 114 games in seven seasons to add to his playoff goal scoring totals during the height of the Oilers dynasty.
His goal totals would rise from 12 in 1983, to 13 during the Oilers first Stanley Cup championship in 1984 to his best ever with 17 as they repeated as cup champions and Gretzky was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1985. Those 17 goals in 1985 rank as the third highest in a single playoff year. For the remainder of the streak of double-digit playoff game seasons, he scored 8 in 1986, 5 in 1987 on the way to another Stanley Cup, 12 in 1988 for Gretzky's second Conn Smythe Trophy and fourth and final Stanley Cup.
Following that season, Gretzky was famously traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where the playoff run of double-digit games would continue. He would score 5 goals in 11 games to put his career total at 86, with the 5th goal coming on this date in 1989, which moved him into first place all time, surpassing the record of 85 held by Bossy since his retirement in 1987.
Gretzky during his record setting 1989 playoffs,
evidenced by his wearing the assistant captain's "A".
The Kings would make the playoffs for the next four seasons, allowing Gretzky to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for fourteen consecutive seasons. Hampered by injuries, Gretzky would only play in 7 of the Kings 10 playoff games in 1990, which limited him to just 3 goals.
He would score 4 more in 12 games in 1991 and a pair in 1992 as the Kings were bounced after 6 games in the first round.
1993 saw the Kings take a run at the maximum number of possible games, as they had a 6 game series in the first round, 6 in the second, the full 7 in the conference finals and five more in the cup finals, for a total of 24 games out of a maximum 28. Gretzky led Los Angeles with 15 goals that postseason, the second highest of his career, which allowed him to become the first player in NHL history to surpass 100 career playoff goals.
Unfortunately, the Kings would fail to qualify for the playoffs over the next two seasons, and with things looking bleak for the future, Gretzky was traded to the St. Louis Blues late in the 1995-96 season, allowing him another shot at the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. His role was mainly as a playmaker, as he produced assists at a rate of more than one per game, but was limited to only 2 goals in 13 contests.
He moved to the New York Rangers for 1996-97 season and scored the final 10 playoff goals of his career in 15 games as the Rangers made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Gretzky's career would wind down over the next two seasons as the Rangers would fail to qualify for the playoffs either season, leaving his career total at an NHL record 122 goals.
Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Los Angeles Kings Wayne Gretzky jersey. Gretzky, the long time captain of the Oilers wore the "A" as an assistant captain during his first season in Los Angeles in deference to the Kings incumbent captain Dave Taylor.
1988-89 was the first season for the Kings new uniform set, as they radically changed their entire look, abandoning the purple and gold colors of royalty, which they shared with the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, to the trendy and very much in favor black with the addition of silver and white, which they would share with the Raiders of the NFL, who also played in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994.
While the basic jersey worn by the Kings would remain unchanged from 1988 to 1998, the customization would go through a series of detail changes. The white jerseys started life with silver names and numbers outlined in black and the name on nameplates. The sleeve numbers were silver outlined in white.
In 1991, the names and numbers changed to three colors, silver trimmed in white and outlined in black for one season. The names were no longer on nameplates. Finally, in their fifth season of use, the numbers would change to a higher contrast and much more readable black, which were trimmed in white and outlined in silver. The names were simplified to one color black and this specification would remain in effect throughout the rest of the life of the jerseys.
The black jerseys would have a similar history, starting out with silver names and numbers outlined in white and silver sleeve numbers outlined in black and the names on a nameplate.
1991 saw the move to three colors in the combination of silver names and numbers trimmed in black and outlined in white. Sleeve numbers were now silver trimmed in white and outlined in black, while the nameplates were no longer in use.
Changes for 1992 saw the names simplified to one color white, while the sleeve numbers were changed to black, trimmed in white and outlined in black and would remain this way until this set was replaced in 1998-99.