During a year jam-packed with concussions (and poorly diagnosed C1 and C2 vertebrae), a slew of player milestones have flown under the radar during this year’s NHL season. Several players reached pinnacles in 2012. Some have set new (or tied) NHL records, legends have retired, and some have reached markers such as their 1,000th game or their 500th goal.
Unfortunately, 2012 has been the year of the concussion. It’s body count has been high and continues to climb. Therefore, highlights that would usually be talked about for weeks are slipping from our memories almost immediately after we hear the news. I’m here to bring focus back to some of the milestones reached this season and giving credit where it’s due.
October 6, 2011: Philadelphia Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr scores his 1,600th point against the Boston Bruins. He also played in his 1,300th game this season.
October 22, 2011: Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom plays his 1,500th career game against the Washington Capitals – the 14th player to do so. Also on this day, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill played in his 1,000th game.
December 8, 2011: Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa netted his 400th career goal against the New York Islanders.
December 17, 2011: New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik scores his 300th goal against the Phoenix Coyotes.
December 30, 2011: Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson scores his 400th goal against the Calgary Flames. He also played in his 1,100th game this season.
January 8, 2012: Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla scores his 500th goal against the Minnesota Wild – the 42nd player to do so.
January 10, 2012: Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Teemu Selanne plays 1,300th game, becoming the ninth European-born and second Finnish-born player to do so since Teppo Numminen.
January 29, 2012: Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara breaks his own record for hardest shot in the NHL, clocking in at 108.8MPH.
February 2, 2012: Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner tied a franchise record set by Wayne Gretzky, scoring eight points in one game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
February 4, 2012: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis scored a hat-trick while playing in his 900th NHL game. He also scored his 800th career point this season.
February 7, 2012: Owen Nolan announces his retirement in San Jose after a career that included 1,200 games played, 885 points, and five All-Star game appearances.
The 2011-12 NHL season has had an incredible impact on the record books, and it’s important to keep focus on the talent involved in the sport and not just the physical aspects. Hockey is first, and foremost, a game of skill and the fact that league officials and the general public are losing sight of this is a shame. While the great debate wages on about if taking body contact and fighting out of the game would change the sport for the worst, we wouldn’t have a game in the first place if not for the talent of these players. Don’t let these milestones go unnoticed.