Imagine yourself playing over 1,500 games in the NHL. Many goals, points, and highlight-reel moments. With all the magical moments, there are also countless hits, injuries, and painful losses. It is a long and intense NHL season, 82 games if you’re healthy, but the ones who compete and are the most passionate, they make a lasting impression. The ones who play 82 games over multiple decades, they are enshrined.
Netzach forces us to think about what it means to be eternal, as well as what it means to endure. For hockey players, it is a complicated discussion. Each hockey player eventually retires, one’s body does not allow him to play forever. Yet, even once one retires, if you play long enough, and work hard enough, you are recognized for your endurance.
In this post, we recognize the ageless wonders. The players who played a lot of hockey, enduring success, injuries, losses, and for some the ultimate prize. These are the players that have played the most games in an NHL career, in some cases spanning over multiple decades. Their stories and accolades are both impressive and inspiring and connect to our sefirah.
Scott Stevens – 1,635 games played.
Hard-hitting defenceman Scott Stevens of Kitchener, Ontario knocked several players cold with his well-timed body checks during his career from 1982 to 2004. Stevens was a fierce competitor with Washington, St. Louis and most famously in New Jersey. His leadership qualities helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup in 1994-95, 1999-2000 and again in 2002-03. He was one of the most gifted offensive defencemen accumulating 196 goals and 712 assists for 908 points. Stevens’ 2,785 penalty minutes are the 14th most in NHL history and even though some of his hits may be questionable in today’s game. He was one of the best of his era in both ends of the ice.
Dave Andreychuk – 1,639 games played.
Winger and power-play specialist Dave Andreychuk scored 640 goals and added 698 assists for 1,338 points in his 1,639 games. Andreychuk of Hamilton, Ontario played from 1982 to 2006 with the likes of Buffalo, Toronto, New Jersey, Boston, Colorado, and Tampa Bay. He finally got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup when he captained the Lightning to their one and only championship season in the 2003-04 season. Andreychuk was one of the league’s most consistent and dependable scorers and is well respected off the ice.
Chris Chelios – 1,651 games played
Chicago native Chris Chelios holds the NHL record for most games played by a defenceman with 1,651. He scored 185 goals and added 763 assists for 948 points from 1983 to 2009 with original-six teams Montreal, Chicago and Detroit and also the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets). Chelios was a fierce competitor who was known for his passion for the game. He won the Stanley Cup in 1985-86 with the Montreal Canadiens as well as the Red Wings in 2001- 02 and 2007-08.
Mark Recchi – 1,652 games played.
Mark Recchi had a long NHL career lacing up in 1,652 games with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Montreal, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Boston between 1988 and 2011. Recchi chipped in with 577 goals and 956 assists. He managed to hoist the Stanley Cup twice as he helped Carolina to their one and only trophy win in 2005-06 and then won it again with the Bruins in the 2010-11 campaign. Recchi was known for scoring big goals with 91 game-winners during his career.
Ron Francis – 1,731 games played.
Centre Ron Francis was considered one of the classiest players in NHL history. Francis played 1,731 regular-season games and racked up 1,798 points on 549 goals and 1,249 assists. Francis of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario played with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs, during his career from 1981 to 2002. The skilled playmaker won a pair of consecutive Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons. Francis ranks second on the all-time assists ledger and fifth in total points.
Jaromir Jagr – 1,733 games played.
The only reason forward Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic isn’t in the hall of Fame yet is because he’s still playing. The 48-year old from Kladno began his career as an 18-year-old with Pittsburgh back in 1990. While his NHL career ended in 2018, he is still playing hockey for his hometown team in the Czech Republic. While in the NHL, Jagr has played with Washington, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, and Calgary Flames. Jagr won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1990-91 and 1991-92.
Mark Messier – 1,756 games played.
Power forward Mark Messier came awfully close to playing the most NHL games in a career but retired just a dozen contests short of setting a new record. Messier of Edmonton, Alberta played with Edmonton, the New York Rangers, and Vancouver during his NHL career which kicked off in 1979 and came to an end in 2004. He was well known for his leadership capabilities, won half a dozen Stanley Cups, as he helped lead Edmonton to five championships and the Rangers to one championship. Messier scored 694 goals and added 1193 assists in his 1,756 regular-season outings and his 1,887 points are second in NHL history.
Gordie Howe – 1,767 games played.
“Mr Hockey” has held down the number one spot ever since retiring. Howe managed to play in all but 80 of his 1,767 regular-season games with the Red Wings. He skated his final NHL campaign with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80. Howe won four Stanley Cups with Detroit accumulating 801 goals and 1049 assists for a third-ranked 1,850 points during his lengthy career. Howe could do it all and was one of the toughest players to ever play the game.
Statistics edited from https://www.thesportster.com/hockey/top-15-longest-nhl-careers/