Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Blackhawks impress Wayne Gretzky
By Scott Powers
Wayne Gretzky said Wednesday he could envision having a debate with Michael Jordan: Who has the better streak: Blackhawks or Heat?
Either way, Gretzky said the comparison is good for the NHL. The Blackhawks have a record 23 games to start the season without a regulation loss while the Heat have won 15 straight.
"It's nice to sit down and listen to talk shows and listen to TV shows," Gretzky said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "People are saying, 'Okay, who is the better team right now and who has the hottest streak? The Heat or the Chicago Blackhawks?' That only enhances our sport and makes it bigger and better."
As far as Jordan, who Gretzky still maintains is the greatest athlete he's ever seen, he could guess which team he would pick, although Jordan has attended several Blackhawks games throughout the past several seasons.
"If we were sitting here, Michael Jordan would say what the Heat are doing is better than the Blackhawks," Gretzky said. "And if I was sitting with him, I would tell him what the Blackhawks are doing is better than the Heat.
"We're all biased to our own sport, and we all loved what we played, and we think the thing we did is the greatest sport in the world. But that's what sports is all about. People stand around and talk about it. 'Who's the best team? Who's the best player? Who's the most exciting athletes to watch? There's no true answers, except who becomes the champion of each and every sport. That's when questions get truly answered."
Gretzky said the Blackhawks' consistency has impressed him.
"One of the toughest things of being a professional athlete, whether it's hockey or basketball or even golf or tennis, is that consistency level of being extremely high," Gretzky said. "They've been able to do that. That's a credit not only to the players, but the organization and the coaching staff.
"It's truly been a phenomenal run. It's something I'm sure the fans of Chicago have truly embraced. They're witnessing something really unique and something extremely special."
Gretzky didn't want to downplay the Blackhawks' streak, but he said their postseason success would define how they're perceived in future years.
"I can be really candid: I can't even remember how many Presidents' Trophies we won at Edmonton (for having the best regular-season record), but I can say how many Stanley Cups we won," said Gretzky, who won all four of his Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers. "Because that's what you remember and what you talk about. But they should be very proud of what they've accomplished so far. I think winning any trophy in the National Hockey League is pretty special.
"Ultimately, we're going to think about this team of who wins the Stanley Cup come June. No one is going to talk about who wins the Presidents' Trophy and who went undefeated. The talk will be who won the Stanley Cup, and that's what it's all about."
Speaking of trophies, Gretzky believes Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has put himself in position to be in the MVP discussion. Kane leads the Blackhawks with 12 goals and 15 assists.
"There's no question right now if you're picking an MVP, he has to be in serious consideration because he's elevated his game," Gretzky said. "One of the reasons why they've been successful this year is he's been game-in, game-out one of the key players, key components of scoring big goals late in games, overtime, hard-working games and things like that.
"Obviously to me, winning teams, the teams that are winning the most, those are the teams you look at first and foremost when picking an MVP throughout the National Hockey League."