Hockey is a sport that seems to have gone in cycles throughout history – and as in every other sport, there are records deemed unbreakable.
But records are made to be broken. Or are they?
In the National Hockey League, Bobby Orr once scored 46 goals as a defenseman and many said that was a record that would never be broken. But 11 years later, Paul Coffey scored 48. Phil Esposito shattered the single season goal record when he notched 76. It was another record many said would never be broken. Again, 11 years later, Wayne Gretzky shattered that bench mark with 92. Would it ever be broken? Many said never. Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull came close with 85 and 86 respectively.
When Hull and Lemieux came close to Gretzky’s mark, it became Terry Sawchuk’s 103 career shutouts that would never be broken. Enter Martin Brodeur. Now it’s Orr’s plus-124 in a single season or Tony Esposito’s 15 shutouts by a rookie netminder.
It’s no different in the Canadian Hockey League.
Lawrence Sacharuk (Saskatoon, WHL 1971-72) is the only defenseman to score 50 goals in a season and he reached the 50 mark in 65 games. 17 years later Bryan Fogarty, (Niagara Falls, OHL) was able to hit 47 in 66 games. 29 years after Sacharuk hit the mark Marc Andre Bergeron (Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL) would score 42 in 72 games. In 42 years since the precedent was set, that’s as close as anyone would come.
Pat LaFontaine (Verdun, QMJHL 1982-83) holds the CHL record for most points by a rookie in 1 season when he recorded an astounding 234 points in 70 games. He absolutely destroyed the previous highs set by Wayne Gretzky (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, 1977-78) and Tony Tanti, (Oshawa, OHL, 1980-81) with 182 and 150 points respectively in 68 games. Petr Nedved, (Seattle, WHL, 1989-90) with 145 in 71 games would be as close as anyone would come 31 years.
For 13 years Guy Lafleur (Quebec, QMJHL, 1970-71 - 62 games) held the single season goal scoring record with 130. Then came along Mario Lemieux (Laval, QMJHL, 1983-84 - 70 games) who would notch 133. That same season Ray Ferraro (Brandon, WHL) would score 108.
Pierre Larouche, (Sorel, QMJHL, 1973-74 - 67 games) would hold the single season point record with 251. Just 9 years later, Pat LaFontaine’s rookie season couldn’t surpass that. But just one season after LaFontaine, Mario Lemieux recorded an astounding 282 points in 72 games.
In comparison to today’s game, John Tavares, who was the first player to receive exceptional status, had 45 goals and 32 assists for 77 pints his rookie season. He had career totals of 215 goals, 218 assists and 433 points.
Here’s a look at some of the CHL career and single season records.