Who Scored the Most Goals in one NHL Season? How Did it Happen?

Who Scored the Most Goals in one NHL Season

All sports in the world hold significant and marvelous records that are nearly impossible to break or take years to break. Those record-breaking or record-making players set the highest standard for that specific field. And now every new record is compared with that standard record.

And some great player’s clubs set those never breaking records. In ice hockey, the most desired record that everyone wants to break is the goals record.

And who is the best player who set this record in the NHL that is still hard to break? – The Great One!

The great one of the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky, scored 92 goals in one season in NHL history. It was the 1981-82 season when Wayne Gretzky set this unbreakable record for all time. Gretzky set this record by breaking the previous Phil Esposito’s 76 goals record in the 1970-71 season.

Let’s do a brief review of the story behind it.

How and When The Wayne Gretzky Break The Record?

In 1981-82, Wayne Gretzky was in the third season of his career in the NHL. And in these three seasons, he already showed the hockey world his dynamic offensive hockey playing style as he won the Art Rose trophy for scoring the most points in just the previous year before his remarkable following 92 goals season. He scored 55 goals with 109 assists, scoring 164 record points in a season.

How and When The Wayne Gretzky Break The Record

With his offensive game style and continuous record-making figures, hockey arenas knew he had many new things to set. But no one would have ever thought about what was there in his on his following to-do list.

Wayne Gretzky was not at his hot and souring pace at the start of the 1981-82 season. He didn’t score even a single goal in his first two games. Yet he still managed to achieve 13 goals in 13 games.

But as the season moved on. Gretzky picked up his fast and furious pace as he succeeded in scoring 18 goals in 13 games in November. Then he scored his 50th goal in the 39th game of the season against the Philadelphia Flyers on an empty net. What a great goal it was! (Take a look at this to find out who scored the most goals in a single NHL game – it’s one of the records the Great One doesn’t hold!)

Gretzky scores one of his most famous goals in the video below:

Gretzky Gets His 50th in 39 (Dec 30, 1981)

And then, like rocket speed, he jets off to 82 goals with 14 games left. By looking at his speed of goal-scoring, a question start rising that;

Can Wayne Gretzky score 100 goals?

To reach 100, he needed to be at an average of 1.28, but Gretzky was at an average of 1.05. And to get 100, one needs to have a great shot without pressure, as it just has to be done with something special.

Can Wayne Gretzky score 100 goals

However, to end the goal journey till the 100, the starting games in March proved expensive for him. The Edmonton Oilers lost six games continuously at the beginning of March, and Wayne Gretzky had zero goals. It was such an unusual situation for everyone because Wayne Gretzky had never gone a game without a single goal. It was so rare when he did not score a single goal and had zero in the game.

But still, he reached the sparkling unbreakable strongest record of the 92 GOALS.

He finished the season remarkably with 10 goals in 8 games. A total of 92 memorable GOALS. Bravo, what a fantastic scene when he marked his 92 goals on the scoreboard!

Although everyone was astonished and happy about his record, there is hot redline news of his 92 goals everywhere. He was delighted, too, but there was still little sadness in his inability to reach the 100th goal.

“It was a thrilling ride to score 92 goals, but I think I had myself down somehow by not reaching the 100th; maybe I need to thrust myself more.”

Whose Most Goals Record Did Wayne Break?

To break the record, one has to break the previous record. And some records are long-reigning records that are hard and tough to break. But some players come and crack those records.

Wayne Gretzky breaks the record of Phil Esposito

Phil Esposito was the star of his time who made several records, and players of his era could hardly come near those records. Phil Esposito, the Generation star, had the 1970-71 season to his name, where he set the 76 goals record with the addition of 76 assists. He got a total of 152 points.

At that time, both 76 goals record and 152 points were the highest records recorded in the NHL records book. No one succeeded in breaking that goal record until the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, set his foot into the NHL.

The only person who went closest to that Phil’s record was Mike Bossy. He scored 68 goals in the 1980-81 season, before the Wayne historical record season.

Hence the 76 goals record was near breakable with the Bossy goals. But who knew it was not only breakable but would also get smashed?

Wayne scored his 77th goal on February 28th, 1982, while playing against the Buffalo Sabres.

Who Has The Closest Goals To The Wayne Gretzky?

Okay, so the next person closest to the Wayne Gretzky record is Wayne Gretzky himself. After the next two seasons of his 1981-82 season, Gretzky scored 87 goals setting his second-goal record.

Brett Hull Has The Closest Goals To The Wayne Gretzky

In addition to Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull is another notable player. He scored 86 goals in the 1990-91 season. The next player who is in the 80 goals club is Mario Lemieux. He scored 85 goals in the 1988-89 season. This Means Bossy broke only Mario’s goals record.

All have 87, 86, and 85, only one digit, one goal difference in their numbers.

Is The Record Ever Going To Break?

Well, the answer is probably NO, and I think almost every well-known hockey person has a similar belief. Because almost all the records that Wayne Gretzky set are now considered unbreakable, I think he placed his records to the height of the K2. That’s why he is known as the ‘Great One’.

Is The Record Ever Going To Break

He was the most offensive player that the NHL world had ever seen. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were their most influential and offensive players. Remember that the game style has less to do with the goal-scoring record. However, it was the era of free-wheeling goal-scoring in ice hockey when Gretzky and Lemieux ushered on the hockey world.

And until now, no one has ever entered the 80s goals club. The only active players of the 21st century who scored the closest goals to their records are Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Auston Mathews.

They all are in the 60 goals club, which is still far behind the 80 goals club. 

  1. Alex Ovechkin scored 65 goals in the 2007-08 season.
  2. Steven Stamkos scored 60 goals in the 2011-12 season.
  3. Auston Mathews scored 60 goals in the 2021-22 season, the latest player and the latest record who entered into the 60 goals club.

In current hockey time, the player who scored 50 or more goals has the highest chance of getting the Richard Rose trophy as the most goals-scoring player.

A Brief Look at the Last Five Seasons

Steven Stamkos2022-237
Auston Mathews2021-2260
Auston Mathews2020-2144
David Pastrnak / Alex Ovechkin2019-2048
Alex Ovechkin2018-1951
Top Goal Scorer of the Yearly NHL Leaders

After Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux’s time when played, the game has changed so much. Now games are primarily about tight defensive techniques and good goalies. Plus, God-gifted, dynamic goal-scoring skills are rare too.

Today coaches and hockey playing systems are more focused on stopping goals. All the coaches today preferred to train their team in the defensive system. Because in today’s NHL, if you are weak at defense, you are weak to win.

This defense has dominated the game so much that now it’s hard to make the game return back to the 1980’s level offensive game.

Even though the NHL is always trying to design new ways to make the game more offensive and goal-scoring, it is more like a dream now because the game has profoundly changed. An essential shift is required to get the fun back to the 80’s level, which is not easy to happen.

This is why the Wayne Gretzky 92 goals record in one season is most likely unbreakable.

Top 10 Goal Scorers in Single NHL Season

Top 10 Goal Scorers in Single NHL Season

The following table shows how many goals have been scored in one NHL season. (source)

1Wayne Gretzky1981‑8292
2Wayne Gretzky1983‑8487
3Brett Hull1990‑9186
4Mario Lemieux1988‑8985
5Alexander Mogilny1992‑9376
6Phil Esposito1970‑7176
7Teemu Selänne1992‑9376
8Wayne Gretzky1984‑8573
9Brett Hull1989‑9072
10Jari Kurri1984‑8571
Table of Top 15 Goal Scorers in Single NHL Season

The Bottom Line on Who Scored the Most Goals in one NHL Season?

So, what do you think? Is this 92 goals record breakable or not with today’s NHL game defensive evolution?

Austin Taylor

Who is Austin Taylor?

Meet Austin Taylor, your go-to source for everything ice hockey! With a passion for the sport that’s as deep as the ice itself, Austin Taylor brings you concise, expert insights and nitty-gritty details on all things hockey. From gear reviews to strategy breakdowns, Austin Taylor is your trusted guide to navigating the exhilarating world of ice hockey. Get ready to lace up your skates and dive into the game with Austin Taylor as your ultimate companion.

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