Assuming he doesn’t get hurt over the next 48 hours, Detroit Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom will play his 1500th NHL contest on Saturday against Washington.
Assuming he doesn’t get hurt over the next 24 hours, San Jose Sharks C Joe Thorton will play his 1000th NHL contest on Friday against New Jersey.
And assuming he doesn’t, I dunno, fall down a flight of stairs or something over the next six hours, Montreal Canadiens D Hal Gill will play his 1000th NHL contest tonight against Pittsburgh.
All joking aside, this is a pretty impressive feat. Only 264 players in NHL history have played in 1,000 games and at 6-foot-7, Gill’s the tallest to ever accomplish it. Not bad for an eighth-round pick (207th overall) at the 1993 Draft that was almost cut immediately by then-Boston coach Pat Burns:
After an impressive training camp with the Bruins 14 years ago, the late Pat Burns told him that if it were up to him, Gill would be cut. But his trusted assistant coach Jacques Laperriere saw something in Gill, and Burns deferred to his judgment.
“Well, Jacques wants to keep you around,” Gill remembers Burns telling him. “I don’t really see it, but I’m going to go with Jacques on this one.”
For a blueliner with limited mobility that was booed almost nightly during his time in Toronto, Gill’s been a very useful player for some very good teams. He’s played over 100 playoff games, went to three consecutive Eastern Conference finals from 2007-10 and won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh.
While his success stems from blocking more shots than Dikembe Mutombo — Gill famously recorded 68 in 18 games during Montreal’s magical playoff run two years ago — he’s also served as a valuable mentor to younger defensemen. Habs blueliners P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges credit Gill as a major influence on their development. (Which is kind of hilarious because, if you were going to pick Hal Gill’s polar opposite, it’d probably be Subban.)
So here’s to you, Hal Gill. Congrats on game No. 1000. Here’s hoping you celebrate by further denting your shinpads tonight.