Throughout the Tampa Bay Lightning’s franchise history, there have been eight players that have played in their 1,000th career NHL game while wearing a Lightning uniform. It’s become a tradition in the NHL to acknowledge a player reaching that accomplishment by presenting them with a silver stick. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to see one given out to a Lightning player. As we’re about to start the new season, it’s a fun time to look back at some history, but also look ahead to the future. Let’s look at those eight players and then look at who is up next and when we might see another silver stick given out to a Lightning player.
Rob Ramage entered the NHL in the 1979-80 season after spending a year in the WHA. He joined the Lightning for their inaugural season in 1992-93 and reached the 1,000 career game mark on February 11th, 1993 in a home game against the Minnesota North Stars in a 1-0 loss. That made him the first player to play in his 1,000th game for the franchise. Ramage would only play 44 more games after before retiring.
Now a Hall of Famer, Denis Savard was nearing the end of his career when he joined the Lightning for the 1993-94 season playing 74 games and then 31 more in 1994-95 before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for the last two and a half years of his career. Savard playing in his 1,000th game on the road against the Edmonton Oilers in a 3-2 loss on February 27th, 1994.
In Brian Bellows, we get the first Lightning player to record a point and to get a win during his 1,000th career game. Bellows entered the league in 1982-83 as an 18 year old with the Minnesota North Starts. He joined the Lightning in 1995-96 and reached his 1,000th game in the middle of the season on January 31st, 1996. Bellows recorded an assist and the Lightning won 4-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bellows played another 188 games in his career before retiring following the 1998-99 season.
And back to a losing effort in a player’s 1,000th career game with Petr Svoboda. Svoboda entered the NHL in 1984-85 with the Montreal Canadiens and joined the Lightning in the middle of the 1998-99 season at the tail end of his career. He played 123 games with the Lightning and reached his 1,000th career game during the 1999-00 season. His 1,000th game came on March 12th, 2000, a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Svoboda would only play 28 more games in the NHL, finishing his NHL career with 19 games for the Lightning in 2000-01.
Ledyard entered the NHL in 1984-85, a bit later than most players that reach 1,000 games played as he was 23 years old at the time. He came to Tampa in the middle of the 2000-01 season and then finished his NHL career out with the Lightning in 2001-02. His 1,000th career game came on December 12th, 2001 a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames. He would only play another 28 games in the NHL.
Sydor entered the NHL in 1991-92 with the Los Angeles Kings. He was acquired mid-season by the Lightning in 2003-04 and was with the Lightning for their Stanley Cup championship in 2004. He was back after the 2004-05 lockout and played 80 more games with the Lightning in 2005-06, during which he reached his 1,000th game played on February 28th, 2006 in an 8-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. Sydor moved on from the Lightning after the season. He played 291 more NHL games in his career.
The first, and so far only, player to play the first 1,000 games of his NHL career with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the only Lightning player to have 1,000 games played for the franchise. The 1st overall pick in 1998, a 2004 Stanley Cup winner, a Rocket Richard winner, and the Captain at the time of his 1,000th game. His 1,000th game came on January 21st, 2013 in a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders on the road.
Martin St. Louis
Martin St. Louis is best known for his time in Tampa Bay, but he started his NHL career with 69 games for the Calgary Flames. St. Louis reached his 1,000th career game almost 10 months after Lecavalier on November 19th, 2013. He is only the second player after Bellows to record a point in his 1,000th career game with the Lightning, picking up an assist in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on the road.
Before we move on to the next section, just some bits of trivia from pulling up the information for these eight players. The Lightning are 2-6 in games where a player is playing in his 1,000th career game. As mentioned before, only Bellows and St. Louis have recorded a point, both with a single assist. No player has scored a goal or recorded multiple points. Only Bellows has posted a positive plus-minus. The positions are evenly split with four forwards and four defensemen. Home and road is also split four and four.
Who’s Up Next?
Corey Perry is the only player currently on the Lightning roster that has made it to 1,000 games played, having down that with the Dallas Stars in 2019-20 after compiling 988 games with the Anaheim Ducks to start his career. So it really only leaves two Lightning players coming up in the very near future to receive that Silver Stick.
Stamkos enters the 2022-23 season with 922 career games under his belt over 14 seasons in the NHL. If not for injuries as well as the 2012-13 lockout, he would have made it to 1,000 games played (and 500 goals and 500 assists and 1,000 points) a couple seasons ago. Now he sits just 78 games away from the plateau. Which means he can make it there this season, if he misses four or less games. Given his injury history, there is certainly reason to doubt he’ll make it there this season and we may have to wait until early next season to see that Silver Stick handed out.
If he doesn’t miss a single game this season, then his 1,000th game would come on April 5th, 2023 in an away game with the New York Rangers. If he misses one game, then it’d be the next night at the Islanders. If he misses two games, then it’d again come on the road, this time against the Ottawa Senators. The last two games of the season though are at home, and it would feel nice if he ended up getting his 1,000th game in one of those two games, especially considering the opponents.
So if Stamkos were to miss three games earlier in the season, then his 1,000th game would come at home on April 11th to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. The last chance would be the final game of the season on April 13th at home against the Detroit Red Wings and his former General Manager Steve Yzerman.
It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Stamkos will reach 1,000 games played in the NHL. It’s just yet to be determined if it will be this year or next year and his health will dictate that.
Hedman is the only other player that can reach the 1,000 game mark in the next couple seasons with the Lightning. He is currently at 898 games played over 13 seasons. While not as impacted by injuries as Stamkos over his career, he had missed some games along the way, otherwise he could have been getting there this season. Instead, it’ll have to wait until the first half of the 2023-24 season for Hedman to reach 1,000 games played and earn his own Silver Stick.
Alex Killorn is the next closest player with 723 career games. However, Killorn is in the last year of his contract and signs are pointing towards him not returning to the Lightning in 2023-24. So unless something big happens with a trade, the salary cap, or Killorn taking a league minimum deal just to stay in Tampa, he won’t be getting there in a Lightning uniform. Killorn has been generally healthy throughout his career and has rarely missed time. That’s allowed him to get close (and it seems possible he will cross the 1,000 games mark) despite not making it to the league until he was 23 years old. He only needs to play another four seasons in the NHL to reach it and I think he can do it as long as he stays healthy, despite the aging he’s starting to undergo.
Nikita Kucherov is also up there and has plenty of term left on his contract. However, he doesn’t have enough term to make it to 1,000 games under his current contract. He’s currently at 562 games played with five years remaining. If he played all 82 games over the next five seasons, he would come up just short at 972 games. It’s hard to imagine Kucherov being done with hockey though. Yes, he’d be 34, but he’s got such an elite game that it’s not hard to imagine him continuing to play into his late 30s and every indication from him certainly makes it seem like he would want to finish his career in Tampa having played for only one team, but you never know and time will tell on that.
On the other side of that though, Brayden Point certainly can reach 1,000 games on his current contract. He starts his new eight-year contract this season which means he has the potential to play 656 games before his deal runs out. Add that to the 417 games he’s already played, and you get a total of 1,073 games played if he plays in every possible game. That’s unlikely to happen, but 73 games is a big enough cushion that you’d have to think that as long as he finishes the contract in Tampa that he’d reach 1,000 games played in the last year of his deal.
Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli are in the same position after having signed eight-year contract extensions of their own this offseason. Sergachev has 362 games played in the NHL so far, but with nine years remaining under contract, he can reach 1,100 games played in the final year of his contract. Cirelli has 294 games under his belt, so he can reach 1,032 games played.
Erik Cernak comes up a little short, despite having also signed an eight-year extension. He has only played 226 games, and has also been a bit injury prone due to all of the shot blocking he does on top of being a physical player. Even with perfect health, he would come up just short at 964 games played at the end of his contract extension.