Now that he’s officially back in the NHL after signing with the New York Islanders, Zdeno Chara can set his sights on an amazing accomplishment.
Another Stanley Cup win? Well yeah, that, too. But if he plays 44 games this season, Chara would surpass former Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios and become the NHL’s all-time leader in games played by a defenseman.
Chelios played 1,651 NHL games over 26 seasons. Of that total, 578 came in a Red Wings uniform. He holds the distinction of playing 400+ games with three Original Six teams. The Chicago Blackhawks (664) and Montreal Canadiens (402) are the others. Cheli also played seven games for the Atlanta Thrashers, and is the only Thrasher inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which must be high up on the list of his proudest accomplishments.
Favorite Zdeno Chara story. In his rookie year he took a seat next to me on the team bus. I was seated at the window, and when he sat down he pinned me so hard against the glass I thought he was mad at me. He said, “Sorry I so big”. Great guy and gentle giant. Welcome back, Z.
— Howie Rose (@HowieRose) September 18, 2021
Should Chara succeed in this endeavor, it will be the second season in a row that a Red Wings Hall of Famer was bumped from the top of an NHL games played list. Last season, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau (1,779 games) surpassed Gordie Howe (1,767) to become the all-time leader in NHL games played.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Jack Eichel is on his way to Buffalo, Matthew Tkachuk offered a family contract update and another former Steve Yzerman draftee has become part of the Red Wings organization.
That’s A Fact, Jack
Jack Eichel will be reporting to training camp with the Buffalo Sabres. The first step will be taking his physical. Then what happens?
Talking Out A Contract
Forward Matthew Tkachuk played hardball with the Calgary Flames, holding out to gain a long-term deal with the team. His dad Keith did the same with the St. Louis Blues. Now, younger brother Brady, an RFA, is seeking the same from the Ottawa Senators. Matthew says negotiations are not going well.
Left winger Dennis Yan, a former Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, signed an AHL contract with Detroit’s Grand Rapids Griffins farm club.
UPDATE: The Griffins on Friday signed left wing Dennis Yan to a one-year contract. #GoGRG
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) September 17, 2021
Yan, 24, spent the 2020-21 season in Austria with the Black Wings 1992 of the ICEHL. The left wing was the third pick (64th overall) of then-Lightning GM Yzerman in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.