If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll know all about Cal Ripken Jr.’s ironman record in which he played 2,632 consecutive games from May 30, 1982 to Sept. 19, 1998.
If you’re a football fan you’ll know Brett Favre’s ironman streak just came to an end Dec. 13 when he was finally forced to watch a game from the sidelines after starting 297 consecutive from 1992-2010.
In hockey, the long-standing ironman is Chicago goalie Glenn Hall, whose amazing stand of 502 (551 including playoffs) consecutive games is made even more spectacular by the fact he was a goaltender in an era when masks weren’t part of the uniform.
The NHL’s active ironman is Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who is sitting at 455 consecutive games. He plays well more than 20:00 per game and has led his teams in ice time each season since the lockout.
That brings us to Henrik Sedin, who is quietly leaving his own mark. The defending Hart Trophy winner is 10 behind Bouwmeester at 445, having suited up for every game since March 21, 2004 – 15 days after Bouweester’s streak started.
Unlike baseball, hockey is an aggressive, physical sport that wears down even the fittest bodies and all but guarantees at least one injury per season. Unlike football, the hockey season goes on all winter long and games are played at least twice per week and often more than that. It’s impossible to conclude which sport’s ironman streak is most impressive and it’s foolish write off one as less important than another.
But while absolutely nothing can be taken away from Bouwmeester’s and Sedin’s current run of invincibility, it’s hard to deny just how otherworldly Hall’s mark is.
Think of the countless pucks to the face, the amount of stitches and the ability to come back for more each and every game. Hall used to make him self throw up before each game to calm his nerves – needless to say Bouwmeester and Sedin don’t go through the same ritual.
Players are bigger, stronger and harder on the puck than they were in Hall’s day, but the NHL was a rougher place back in the 1950s and ‘60s and the fact no one has surpassed the mark in 48 years is a testament to Hall’s achievement.
While Bouwmeester could pass the mark this season if he stays healthy, Sedin won’t be able to pass Hall until early in the 2011-12 season. But it’s a long haul to get that far and, if he does get there, it will still take quite a few more before Hall’s mark falls prey to the sands of time.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.