Tuesday’s rivalry night game between Chicago and St. Louis will be a special one for ‘Hawks center Michal Handzus.
The 37-year-old veteran will become just the sixth Slovakian-born player in NHL history to crack the 1,000 games-played plateau, joining the likes of Stan Mikita, Zdeno Chara, Peter Bondra, Marian Hossa and Miroslav Satan.
Handzus will be acknowledged pregame with a portrait painted by local artist Jerry Tibstra, per the Kankakee Daily Journal.
A fourth-round pick at the ’95 NHL Entry Draft, Handzus has played for St. Louis, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Jose and Chicago during his 16-year career. A big-bodied center known for his two-way game, Handzus finished second to Steve Yzerman for the 2000 Selke Trophy and won the first Stanley Cup of his career last season for the ‘Hawks.
That Cup run was pretty impressive for Handzus, considering he filled in admirably as Chicago’s second-line center, scoring three goals and 11 points in 23 games after being picked up for virtually nothing (a fourth-rounder in ’13) at the trade deadline.
As such, it’ll be interesting to see how Chicago’s second-line center position shakes out this spring — Handzus has just four goals and 13 points through 49 games this season, missing extensive time with an upper-body injury. Chicago has tried to address its lack of depth down the middle by acquiring Peter Regin from the Islanders and is also reportedly close to bringing over Finnish phenom Teuvo Teravainen, who just wrapped his SM-liiga campaign.