Crosby ‘Way More Talented Than Gretzky’? Uh, NO

Wayne Gretzky, the undisputed most dominant team sports athlete of all-time, turned 50 earlier this week.

Wayne Gretzky

(Not Great. Greatest.)

While guesting on the Dan Patrick Show today, another NHL great, Jeremy Roenick, was asked to compare Gretzky to Sidney Crosby.

Instead of the usual, reverential platitudes about both, Roenick gave an unvarnished (and much appreciated) opinion this morning that absolutely knocked me off my barstool chair.

“The era now, the players are so much better. The goaltenders are so much better. The equipment is so much more advanced, it would really hard to compare the two eras, but Gretzky was by far the smartest player but I think Sidney Crosby is definitely way more talented than Wayne.”

Bless Roenick’s heart, but no one in modern sports history was more dominant when compared to his peers than Gretzky. Save perhaps Babe Ruth in the immediate seasons after he became a full-time hitter.

As proof, the chart below shows Crosby and Gretzky compared to their peers during their best statistical seasons.

Wayne Gretzky Sidney Crosby Statistical Comparison

 (Top statistical seasons: Crosby ‘06-07, Gretzky ‘81-82)

It was tough to pick Gretzky’s best statistical season, because there were multiple years in his career that he rung up similar numbers. Crosby has led the NHL in scoring once so far in his still-young career, so his body of work is incomplete. But consider that Gretzky accrued the above numbers at age 20.


It’s folly to ascribe Gretzky’s ability to any one personal characteristic. The only evaluation you need is to look at his jaw-dropping numbers compared to the best his peers had to offer at that time to verify that he wasn’t great. No, Gretzky was the greatest. Read more…