Within the past week, the Washington Capitals announced that they will retire Mike Gartner's #11 on December 28th vs the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The right winger is one of the most underrated players of all time. He had 1335 points in his career with 708 goals and 627 assists. He was the 5th player to score 700 goals while only having broken the 50 goal plateau once in his entire career. His 15 consecutive 30+ goal seasons were only matched by Jaromir Jagr, finishing with a total of 17 30+ goal seasons. The consistency of Mike Gartner has been unmatched.
Unfortunately, he never won a Stanley Cup and never even got to the finals. He never won a major NHL award either. All of this was probably due to the fact he was playing in the shadow of guys like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Mario Lemieux. His skating was unparalleled as he holds the record for the fastest skater at the All Star Game.
He is my favorite player of all time even though I didn't get to see him in his prime. I still hate Neil Smith for trading him during the 1993-1994 season. The last possible day, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Glenn Anderson primarily. Why? What reason? Mike Gartner is one of the best goal scorers in the history of the National Hockey League and you trade him for Glenn Anderson? Yes, Anderson was instrumental in the Cup run but what could he do that Mike Gartner couldn't? Mike would go on to have a good career but never that Stanley Cup ring.
He finished his career with the Phoenix Coyotes in their formative years and went to the playoffs a couple of times but never got past the first round.
Overall, Gartner is my favorite player of all time and is the most underrated. I hope to be able to watch the retirement night somehow and see more of his play with the Capitals. So here is to Mike on a good career and an honor he definitely deserves.
Image found here via google images