Those comparisons are very interesting. Comparing them though is so hard to do because of the many many different variables involved. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a no-win debate from both the Lemieux and Gretzky fan standpoint. However, those of us that got to see both players play in their primes are very lucky, and now that they're both gone from the game, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always fun to debate this issue, for the memories and nostalgia, if nothing else.
Here are some variables to think about that make a true comparison almost impossible.
Gretzky - Played in his young days on the Oilers with a dynasty team made up of all-stars like Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Craig Mactavish, and Kevin Lowe.
Lemieux - The best players he played with in his younger days were guys like Moe Mantha, Mike Bullard, and Dan Quinn.
Gretzky - From entering the league until he was the same age as Lemieux when he retired the first time, he only missed significant playing time one season, playing only 64 games in 87-88 after suffering a broken wrist. He only missed 24 games during his first 9 seasons.
Lemieux - Missed 143 games in his first 9 seasons. Partial games, such as playing 1 or 2 periods and leaving with back spasms counted as a game played in the stats. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to judge the number of periods he missed out of the games he did play in those years.
We as Pens fans probably saw Lemieux play many times more than Gretzky. I know that I've seen Gretzky play a decent amount of time, but nowhere compared to how many times I saw Lemieux on TV and in person. So inevitably, any stunning or amazing move or goal Lemieux scored I saw. A lot of what I've seen from Gretzky has been from highlights. Meaning I may have missed something amazing from Gretzky that didn't have a major impact on the score.
And what about Bobby Orr. Can you even compare him to Lemieux and Gretzky? They played different positions. Or Glenn Hall on Patrick Roy. I don't think it would ever be fair to say that someone is hands down the greatest hockey player ever. Of course if someone asked me I wouldn't hesitate to say Lemieux, but that doesn't make it a fact. This debate will live on forever, and I think that's great!