“You probably never gonna see me on the ice again,” Ovechkin said, eliciting a chuckle from Carlson.
“Instant retirement,” Cohn said, also laughing.
“Yeah, right away. See ya,” the three-time NHL MVP said with a smile and a salute.
Clearly, it’s impossible to know if what he said was purely in jest. But Ovechkin did provide perhaps a glimpse into his mind-set regarding NHL records and the final years of his career.
Entering Friday’s game, “The Great Eight” sits 216 goals behind “The Great One,” who tallied 894 career goals. Ovechkin is 12th on the all-time list and is on track to vault past fellow Capitals legend Mike Gartner for seventh place by the end of this season.
Ovechkin has scored 678 career goals in 1,114 regular season games, good for one goal scored in about 61 percent of his games played. Should the 12-time all-star continue at that pace — an average of 50 goals per 82-game season — he’ll be on track to make league history during the 2023-2024 campaign, when he’ll be 38 years old. Gretzky was 38 when he scored his final goal back in 1999.
Given Ovechkin’s durability despite his physical style of play, accomplishing such a milestone is not out of the realm of possibility for the future Hall of Famer.
Ovechkin also explained to Cohn how he’s avoided big injuries over the course of his 1,242 regular and postseason games.
“Mother Nature give me a hell of a body,” Ovechkin said. “My parents or whatever. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Mother of nature … From Russia with love.”
“I have to be healthy. I have to be in good shape,” Ovechkin said in April. “I’m going to try to do it, but you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
Gretzky believes the record is most certainly attainable for Ovechkin.
“He’s got a chance to do it,” Gretzky told NHL Network in March. “He’s a good athlete, he plays in a great organization, he plays with good players, which you have to do, and there’s no question he has a legitimate chance. Good for him … If he does, I’ll be the first guy to shake his hand. I think it’s great for the game.”