Wayne Gretzky scored more than 200 points in a season four times in his career. (THN Archives)
All the talk in NHL circles recently has been around Sidney Crosby and the points he’s been putting up this season. On pace for about 136, Sid is set to score the best points-per-game average of the past 10 years, moving ahead of Joe Thornton’s 2005-06 clip of 1.54.
Sid is at 1.66, on pace to post the most points since a couple of Pens named Lemieux and Jagr in the mid-1990s. But where does that place ‘The Kid’ in terms of the greatest points-per-game season of all-time? Turns out, not even close.
Below you’ll find THN.com’s Top 10 points-per-game seasons from the highest scoring years ever, with a twist: no player can appear more than once. Enjoy.
10. Adam Oates, 1.69 PPG, 1992-93
Believe it or not, Oates’ top scoring season didn’t come centering Brett Hull – it came with the Bruins. The most prolific NCAA grad ever led Boston across the board with 45 goals, 97 assists and 142 points in 84 games.
9. Pat Lafontaine, 1.76 PPG, ’92-93
A big season for big numbers saw Lafontaine lead the scoring race for much of the campaign, until a certain someone further down the list overtook him at the end. As it was, Lafontaine topped Oates to finish second in scoring thanks to 53 goals and 148 points in 84 games.
8. Bobby Orr, 1.78 PPG, ’70-71
The greatest defenseman of all-time posted the greatest offensive season of all-time for blueliners. Orr’s 37 goals and 139 points in 78 games placed him second in scoring, won him his second of three straight Hart Trophies and his fourth of eight consecutive Norris Trophies. For good measure he finished the campaign with a plus-124, which is still a record.
7. Jaromir Jagr, 1.82 PPG, ’95-96
Jagr’s 62 goals and 149 points in 82 games represent the 17th-highest point total in NHL history and the top season of his career. It wasn’t enough to lead the league, or his team, in scoring, but it’s still pretty darn good.
6. Mike Bossy, 1.84 PPG, ’81-82
No one in the history of the NHL scored goals at a rate equal to that of Bossy (.762 per contest) and in ’81-82 he scored 64 and finished with 147 points in 80 games. He didn’t win any regular season awards, but was likely happy with the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy he earned in the spring.
5. Bernie Nicholls, 1.90 PPG, ’88-89
Nicholls had been forging a pretty good career for himself with the Kings, but exploded for 70 goals and 150 points when Mr. Gretzky arrived in Los Angeles. ‘The Pumpernickel King’ never approached those numbers again, but will always have that season.
4. Steve Yzerman, 1.94 PPG, ’88-89
Yzerman’s 155 points (65 goals, 90 assists) are the 14th most all-time, but represent the highest total ever posted by someone not named Gretzky or Lemieux. He won the Lester Pearson Award that season, but was a first- or second-team all-star just once in his career (2000). One can only wonder how many more individual accolades he would have chocked up if he had played in a different era.
3. Phil Esposito, 1.95 PPG, ’70-71
The guy who kept Orr from winning the scoring title in ’70-71 was teammate Esposito, who put up 76-76-152 totals in 78 games to win the Art Ross Trophy. It was the first time anyone had scored 70 or more goals and stood as the record for 11 seasons until Gretzky potted 92.
2. Mario Lemieux, 2.67 PPG, ’92-93
Remember how we mentioned Lafontaine lost the scoring race? Guess who beat him? Lemieux finished with 69 goals and 160 points in just 60 games. Why so few? Oh, just because he was forced to miss two months battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. If not for that, he would have challenged the single-season goals and points marks set by…
1. Wayne Gretzky, 2.77 PPG ’83-84
The greatest scorer in NHL history set the record for points per game by tallying 87 goals and 118 assists for 205 points in 74 games. None of those marks represent records (92, 163 and 215 set the pace) and 205 points are “only” the fourth-most ever. Gretzky owns nine of the 11 highest point totals ever. Lemieux slots in at Nos. 5, 8, 12 and 13.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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