Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal will join an exclusive club on Saturday in Calgary when he plays in his 1,000th game.
This milestone is not uncommon, as 362 players in NHL history have achieved it.
But Staal will join brothers Eric and Jordan in the 1,000 game club. They will be the first trio of brothers to each play 1,000 games.
“It’s pretty special,” Staal said. “Our family grew, we loved the game and we continued to follow each other through the ranks. For us to be able to play as long as we have in this league has been special and something we don’t take for granted. We are very aware of how lucky we are. It’s a cool thing for sure. Good for our family, so it should be a lot of fun.
All three were first-round picks. Eric was selected second overall by Carolina in 2003 and played in 1,293 games. Jordan was taken second by Pittsburgh in 2006 and played 1,068 games – his 1,000th last season against the Red Wings and Marc.
Staal, 35, has been one of the team’s most consistent defenders. He leads the team with a plus-9 differential in 51 games (one goal, nine assists).
He’s also valued for his leadership, which is why the team named him alternate captain ahead of the season, after signing him to a one-year, $2 million extension this summer.
Staal could attract interest ahead of the March 21 deal deadline and said this week he was keeping his options open if approached by chief executive Steve Yzerman with a trade proposal. Staal has the final say due to his no-move clause.
But the Red Wings may be more inclined to keep Staal and sign him for another one-year extension after the season.
They only have one veteran, left-handed defenseman under contract for 2022-23 (Jordan Oesterle) while Danny DeKeyser, Nick Leddy and Troy Stecher are in the final year of their contracts and are unlikely to return (Leddy and Stecher are candidates at the deadline for exchanges).
Staal’s presence could be beneficial for young defenders like Moritz Seider and Simon Edvinsson, their first picks of 2021 who are expected to compete for a roster spot next season.
“I think it’s really important to have guys in your dressing room who command respect from talented young players, who do it well,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Marc earns respect because of the person he is, because of the approach he takes and certainly because of what he has achieved in his career. He’s been around a lot of good teams and been a really good player in this league, so he has the respect of Seids, so I think he can really learn from those types of role models.
“I think it’s extremely important to have good role models in your dressing room. Certainly, Stallsy is someone who does it well every day. He shows up for training every day, even on days when he doesn’t feel good, and works extremely hard, has a very good balanced demeanor about it – doesn’t go too high, doesn’t go too low, has fun at the right times and wants to win and sacrifices to win.
After spending his entire 12-year career with the New York Rangers, Staal was shocked by the 2020 trade that brought him to Detroit (along with a second-round pick for future consideration, as the Rangers needed free up space).
But he quickly accepted being a Red Wing.
“Coming here I just wanted to play well and then do my job on the ice and be with the guys and get to know them and go from there,” Staal said. “It has been a few years of ups and downs for this team. We’ve had good times and bad times, but they’re a fun team to compete with and work hard with.
After: Robby Fabbri out for the season with another ACL injury