Monday, October 22, 2007

Can anyone catch Mr. Hockey?

Chris Chelios has looked pretty darn good so far this season, like he just might play until 50, and I seemed to recall he had a chance to catch Gordie Howe's all-time games played mark (1,767).

He can, but it's going to take a full year this season, and another 138 games after that (taking him to age 48).

And no one else is all that close:

Team Age Tenure GP Rank Years to catch Gordie
1 Chris Chelios Det 45 23 1556 8 2.57
2 Brendan Shanahan NYR 38 19 1424 19 4.18
3 Glen Wesley Car 39 19 1387 28 4.63
4 Luke Richardson Ott 38 19 1346 35 5.13
5 Mark Recchi Pit 39 18 1345 36 5.15
6 Trevor Linden Van 37 18 1328 38 5.35
7 Joe Sakic Col 38 18 1327 39 5.37
8 Rod Brind'Amour Car 37 17 1273 50 6.02
9 Jeremy Roenick SJ 37 18 1258 53 6.21
10 Mike Modano Dal 37 17 1246 60 6.35
11 Mats Sundin Tor 36 16 1240 62 6.43
12 Martin Gelinas Nsh 37 18 1223 66 6.63
13 Jaromir Jagr NYR 35 16 1198 71 6.94
14 Nicklas Lidstrom Det 37 15 1185 82 7.10
15 Bobby Holik Atl 36 16 1178 86 7.18
16 Gary Roberts Pit 41 19 1164 91 7.35
17 Sergei Fedorov Cmb 37 16 1135 106 7.71
18 Darryl Sydor Pit 35 15 1104 126 8.09
19 Geoff Sanderson Edm 35 16 1071 148 8.49
20 Doug Weight StL 36 15 1070 149 8.50

And that doesn't even include Howe's six years in the WHA.

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At 1:11 p.m., October 22, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Yeah, unfortunately Howe's stats never include his WHA years, even though that league was pretty much equal with the NHL at the time.

On TSN once they showed a stat that compared Gretzky and Howe's total goals (I think it was on the anniversary of Gretzky beating Howe's goals scored record) and included both their WHA totals, and their playoff goal totals in both leagues. Gretzky had one more pro goal than Howe did. One.

So even if Chelios does catch Gordie, which I think he will barring a major injury, Howe's longevity and production is still more impressive.

At 2:07 p.m., October 22, 2007, Anonymous nebcanuck said...

If Shannahan can play another say 2 years like he did last year, that actually puts him pretty darn close to Howe. Two and a half more years and he'd have it -- and still be younger than Chelios is now!

Course, I don't know if I buy that Shannahan can continue to produce at a high enough pace that he would get there... still, it's an interesting concept. Agreed with saskhab that overall longevity would be far less impressive, regardless.

At 2:11 p.m., October 22, 2007, Blogger danae said...

I wouldn't count out Rod Brind'Amour still playing at Chelios' age.

At 2:28 p.m., October 22, 2007, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

I have to wonder what Howe's TOI stats looked like compared to Chelios.

At 2:32 p.m., October 22, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

Mark Messier retired with 1,756 games played (11 short of Howe in other words). Obviously he didn't care about getting that record, or he could have done easily.

The other remarkable thing about Howe is that he actually *retired* for two years in between his first NHL stint and his comeback in the WHA.

At 2:33 p.m., October 22, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

And Ron Francis retired with 1,731 games played.

So a couple of guys have come awful close to Gordie in the last few years.

At 3:27 p.m., October 22, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

If one includes playoff games -- and I still don't know why they are excluded from most career records -- Messier is actually #1 at 1,992 NHL GP; Howe has 1,924; Francis 1,902.

Howe had an additional 497 GP in the WHA, Messier just 55, so the "major league" record is Howe's with a bullet, 2,421 GP. That one has got to be pretty much untouchable.

It's startling to think that Howe's and Messier's careers overlapped by two years (in two different leagues), yet between them they had an NHL presence that extended from 1946 to 2004.

At 4:47 p.m., October 22, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

Saskhab makes good points. Don't forget also that when Gordie played there were fewer regular season games than now:
1946 to 48 - 60 games
1949 to 66 - 70 games
1967 - 74 games
1968 to 69 - 76 games
1970 to 73 - 78 games
1974 to 91 - 80 games
1992 to 93 - 84 games
1994 (strike) - 48 games
1995 to present - 82 games

And if you include playoff games in the equation, don't forget that prior to 1968 there were only two 7 games series - versus the current four 7 game series.

Also, Gordie scored most of his goals when the goals per game were 5.5 or less not the 7.0 to 8.0 during Gretzky's most productive years.

Finally, Gordie didn't need an enforcer to protect him like Gretzky did. Gordie took care of himself - which led to the phrase a Gordie Howe hat trick: "a goal, an assist and a fight".

Simply put: Gordie Howe is the greatest hockey player ever!

At 8:11 p.m., October 22, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

aDon't forget also that when Gordie played there were fewer regular season games than now

So what's your point? Players play more games nowadays, but at a substantial cost; not too often do they get four or five months off to recover in the summer like Howe could count on every single year.

Messier played seven seasons of 90 or more GP, maxing out at 101 in 1989-90; Howe never played more than 83 GP in a single NHL season. So his numbers piled up a little bit slower, but so did the toll on his body. And I won't even begin to count air miles ...

At 1:09 a.m., October 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Chelios has promised Gordie that he'll quit at 51 - so Gordie will pretty much keep the seniority record irrespective of anything else.

I wonder who has the best chance of making the All-Star Game at 50? :D

And despite Gordie's rep for doing stuff that would be fairly questionable in today's NHL, he had exactly ONE (1) "Gordie Howe Hat Trick". Wonder who's had the most?

At 4:52 a.m., October 23, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

The "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" used to mean a goal, an assist, and a penalty, and Mr. Hockey probably did it dozens of times.

Fighting, not so much. After Howe famously one-punched putative heavyweight champion Lou Fontinato around 1959, pulverizing Fontinato's nose and landing him in the hospital, nobody else was crazy enough to go with him.


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