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  1. I strongly support Mario Lemieux as the GOAT in hockey. Others will just point to career totals, but those don't tell the story. Others have even said to “compare Wayne’s first 915 games” (which is how many Mario played in his career), because they think that's a "fair" way to compare the careers. But, Wayne started five seasons before Mario and Mario was still playing in the league nine seasons after Wayne had retired. If instead you look at seasons where Lemieux and Gretzky overlapped (1984-1994 and 1995-1997, a total of 12 seasons), you get a different story. This doesn’t eliminate differences in teammates, but at least eliminates the change in the style of play and/or the change in goalie style, equipment, etc. It also doesn’t account for the fact that Gretzky had played in the league for five years, which is an advantage earlier in the career and a bit of a disadvantage later in his career). Over those 12 overlapping seasons, Lemieux: 745 games (highs of 79 and 76, lows of 22 and 59) 613 goals 881 assists 0.82 GPG 2.01 PPG Gretzky, over the same years: 894 games (+149) (highs of 82 and 81, lows of 45 and 64) 495 goals (-118) 1248 assists (+367) 0.55 GPG 1.95 PPG So, in the years they played in the league together, Lemieux scored 0.27 goals per game more than Gretzky and 0.06 points per game more than Gretzky. Gretzky played nearly two full seasons more than Lemieux in their overlapping years, yet came up 118 goals shy of Lemieux and couldn’t even make up the gap in points per game. Of course Gretzky’s career-long totals are higher than Lemieux’s. The years their careers didn’t overlap were played under quite different rules and equipment and such, and so Gretzky “wins” on longevity. Now, if you rank longevity as a thing, then the post above is irrelevant to you. But if you consider Mario’s career “long enough” to count as a career, and you ask yourself which hockey player was capable of playing the best hockey for their career, you can build a very strong case for Lemieux. The parallels between Tiger and Jack are kinda crazy. Jack/Wayne had longer careers with fewer injuries against weaker opposition. Tiger/Mario had shorter careers (injuries/illnesses) against stiffer competition. Woods is the GOAT to me, even before he got his 15th major. Considering the strength and depth of field, 14 > 18 and 81 (at the time before The 2019 Masters) > 72. P.S. Wayne’s 1994-95 season, in which Mario didn’t play: 48 games, 11 goals, 37 assists for 48 points. If you want to count that season, Wayne’s per-game stats drop to 0.54 GPG and 1.90 PPG. P.P.S. Someone suggested that Wayne's last five years when he was in decline, if Mario made up those 150 games, he'd see a similar drop to his numbers. This isn't true: In the 2000-2004 season Mario played 144 games. He scored 70 goals (0.49 GPG) (almost Wayne's 12-season-overlap production level) and 207 points (1.44 PPG), which brings his average(s) to 0.77 GPG (over 1/5 of a goal more per game than Wayne during the 12-season span) and 1.91 PPG (0.04 less). It turns out that the differences in goaltender style, etc. had a big effect and substantially boosted Wayne's career totals: in the five years before they had years in common, Wayne played 393 games, scored 356 goals and racked up 914 points.
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