More and more these days whenever I see 88 I think 99.
I watch Patrick Kane slither weightlessly through the slot, as if unaffected by the forces of gravity and inertia, and Wayne Gretzky immediately comes to mind.
I marvel at how Kane maneuvers the puck like a pea in a shell game – seems it’s here but now it’s there – and I’m struck that I’ve seen Gretzky make fools of defenders just the same way.
Check out the 0-to-50 acceleration as Kane materializes on the far side of the net to score the double-overtime winner. Or the deft no-look, one-touch pass that leaves one to contemplate how he could possibly have known. It’s Gretz-like.
And now I wonder: How many more goals would Kane score, how many more assists would he have to his name, given a swap of circumstances? Imagine Kane playing for Edmonton in the 1980s, before specialty defenses overtook the NHL. Imagine him complemented by the likes of Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Mark Messier.
It’s impossible to say how the numbers would compare. All I know is more and more, whenever I see 88 I think 99.