The Great One vs the Great Eight: Gretzky and Ovechkin face off for charity

Wayne Gretzky and Alexander Ovechkin will face off in NHL 20 to benefit Edmonton's Food Bank and the COVID-19 response in Washington, D.C. AP Photo/Larry MacDougall, File/AP Photo/John Locher

Arguably the NHL‘s two greatest goal scorers of all time, Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin, are set to square off in a game of EA Sports NHL 20 to support Edmonton’s Food Bank and COVID-19 relief efforts in Washington, D.C.

The Great One vs. The Great Eight Showcase will be streamed live on the Washington Capitals’ Twitch feed, a popular site that allows gamers to live stream to viewers while they play.

“We’ve been chatting a bit over the last while and he plays [NHL 20] with his son,” Gretzky said on Oilers Now on 630 CHED on Monday. “I figured, with everybody so depressed right now and so many families decimated by illness and death and losing jobs, that this could be a fun night.”
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The Great One interrupted himself to give the caveat that he is terrible at video games.

Organizers are hoping to raise as much money as possible for Edmonton’s Food Bank, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and typically feeds 22,000 people per month via its hamper program and 500,000 more through schools, churches and other agencies.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Hockey equipment manufacturer CCM and its players donate half a million masks

Gretzky won’t be entirely hung out to dry though, his 19-year-old son, Tristan, will partner with his dad.

Ovechkin will have the help of John “JohnWayne” Casagranda, who the Capitals signed as the first ever e-sports pro signed to a professional sports team and their gaming brand. Casagranda recently qualified for the 2020 NHL Gaming World Championship after finishing runner-up in last year’s competition.

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“Of course when I was a little kid, I played NHL , but right now I have hockey a lot. I try to play different games,” Ovechkin said. “I still remember how to push the buttons and how to play, but it’s all about having fun and raising money to fight the coronavirus.”

“Tristan and Ty [Gretzky] have so much respect for Alex, and they really admire him, as do I , so it’ll be a fun event,” Gretzky said.

Donations to Edmonton’s Food Bank can be made here.

The Great One or The Great Eight

Ovechkin likely has the best shot at catching Gretzky’s 894 career goals, as he eclipsed 700 and sits at 706 with the league on hold. The next closest active player to Gretzky’s mark is Patrick Marleau, who at nearly 41-years-old, more than six years older than Ovechkin, has just 526 tallies.

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READ MORE: Rick Zamperin: Alex Ovechkin could break Wayne Gretzky’s goal scoring record

So, accounting for differences in era, who is the greatest all-time NHL goal scorer?

“That’s a hard question because there’s so many good players,” Gretzky said. “I never really saw Mike Bossy miss. You’ve got to have Brett Hull in the conversation. Jari Kurri was pretty phenomenal himself — he didn’t miss a lot of chances. Gordie Howe was Gordie Howe.

“What Alex is doing today, in today’s game, is pretty unique. There’s no question, if you start a conversation ‘Who’s the greatest goal scorer ever?’, you can’t leave Alex out of the conversation. He’s that good.”

READ MORE: Alex Ovechkin become 8th NHL player to score 700 career goals

Winning is everything?

Some parallels can be drawn between Ovechkin’s and Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s first few seasons in the NHL. Ovechkin stormed out of the gate, scoring 52 goals as a rookie and accomplishing that feat. McDavid’s talent is unquestioned, but the Oilers have only seen post-season action once since McDavid entered the league.

“Obviously when you get individual success, it’s one thing, but you play collectively — you play in team sports,” Ovechkin said. “All of my teammates get the Stanley Cup and that’s the most important thing for me. Since day one, our goal was to get the cup to Washington, D.C.”

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Based on how Ovechkin celebrated that summer, it appears the feeling of finally winning the championship is worth the wait.

“It’s very hard to win. It doesn’t matter how good you are personally, you have to have a team around you to help you do that,” Ovechkin said.

Click to play video: 'Ovechkin’s over-the-top tour with Stanley cup' Ovechkin’s over-the-top tour with Stanley cup
Ovechkin’s over-the-top tour with Stanley cup – Jun 12, 2018

The puck drops on The Great One vs Great Eight Showcase on Wednesday, April 22 at 6 p.m. MT.

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