There’ll be plenty of stick-taps and applause in Anaheim and Minnesota tonight as two players — Ducks forward Teemu Selanne and Wild forward Matt Cullen — will play their 1,300th and 1,000th NHL contests, respectively.
Selanne will become the fourth active player (joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Jaromir Jagr and Roman Hamrlik) to reach the 1,300 mark and just the second-ever Finnish player, joining Teppo Numinen.
Despite a balky knee and what’s shaping up to be a forgettable season for the Ducks, Selanne has been a force this season as he’s first on the team in points and second in power-play goals.
“He [Selanne] sure has done the test of time and deserves everything he gets,” head coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com. “You guys know as I do, he’s a better person than he is a player, and he’s a great player. The goals he’s gotten, the highlights that I’ve seen from his younger days, I mean they’re still in the top 10s of best goals ever.
“I told him today that Gordie Howe played until he was in his 50s, so I don’t see what your problem is.”
Cullen, meanwhile, will become just the 270th player in NHL history to hit the 1,000 mark as Minnesota hosts San Jose. Despite being something of a hockey nomad — he’s played in Anaheim, Florida, Italy (during the lockout), Carolina, New York, Carolina (again), Ottawa and Minnesota over the last nine years — Cullen’s been a vital part of some very good teams. He had 18 points in 25 games en route to the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup victory in 2006 and was a key catalyst for the Wild as they raced to the top of the NHL standings in December.
Cullen said he’s excited about playing game No. 1000 in his home state of Minnesota. He grew up playing high school hockey in Moorhead and collegiately at St. Cloud State.
“For me growing up here and now being able to have my 1,000th game at home in front of the home crowd is special,” Cullen told FSN North. “I grew up watching the North Stars and wanting to play for the North Stars. It is more than I could ever hope for.”