January 26 – Hockey’s Forgotten Iron Man & A Japanese Trail-Blazer

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Last Night’s News 📰

I AM IRON MAN: Keith Yandle is officially the NHL’s new iron man. The Philadelphia Flyer played his 965th consecutive NHL game last night at the New York Islanders’ UBS Arena. Yandle’s streak began March 26, 2009 with the Phoenix Coyotes and has continued over his time with the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, and Flyers.

CANADA IS POWER’ED UP: Hockey Canada announced the Canadian men’s Olympic team on Tuesday, revealing a team headlined by 2021 No. 1 overall pick Owen Power and decorated NHL veteran center, Eric Staal. Staal headlines a group of 12 players with NHL experience on Team Canada, including 18-year-old Anaheim Ducks prospect Mason McTavish.

KUCH IN PROTOCOLS: After just eight games back since his return to the lineup following a lower-body injury that required surgery, Tampa Bay Lightning star forward Nikita Kucherov has entered COVID protocols. The snake-bitten sniper has suited up for just 11 regular-season games since early 2021 but has 17 points in those 11 games this season.

BATHERSON’S TOUGH BLOW: During the Ottawa Senators’ 5-0 shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres, Sens leading scorer Drake Batherson was leveled by goaltender Aaron Dell. While the extent of his ankle injury is unknown, it has been reported that he will miss an extended period of time. The news also means that Batherson will miss his first All-Star Game.

KARLSSON SIDELINED: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will be out of action until at least mid-March after successful forearm surgery to repair a small muscle tear. The 31-year-old had registered 26 points in 33 games for the surprising Sharks, who were firmly in the Pacific Division playoff mix before a recent skid saw them drop four out of five games.

Hockey Is Crazy – The Iron Man Goalie

Congratulations are certainly in order for Keith Yandle, the NHL’s newest iron man who broke the consecutive games record last night that Doug Jarvis has owned for more than 34 years. But for all the focus that has understandably been on the two men in recent days, Glenn Hall has been largely forgotten in the conversation.

True, Hall’s 502 straight games pale in comparison to Yandle’s record, which now sits at 965 in a row. But credit where credit is due: The Hall of Famer (yes, I’m aware of the bad pun) put forth his streak as a goalie in an era largely spent before face masks. Now, that’s toughness.

Glenn Hall (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Hall, Unmasked

In 15 of Hall’s 18 seasons, Hall tended the net without any face covering. Unsurprisingly, that led to roughly 250 stitches through a variety of speeding pucks, sticks and even skate blades that made contact with his face. The 11-time All-Star and three-time Vezina Trophy winner endured bruises to his eye socket and gashes through his cheek, all the while continuing to play on.

Pre-Game Routine

So, what was Hall’s trick for managing to suit up every night across seven-plus years as opponents fired frozen pucks at his head? Probably not one anyone would recommend to young, aspiring NHLers. Before every single game, the long-time Chicago Blackhawk would vomit and then drink a glass of orange juice. Ew.

End of the Streak

Given what the man known as “Mr. Goalie” endured to get to 502 games, surely it must’ve taken something otherworldly to finally keep him out, right? Well, not exactly. Hall’s streak came to an end when he pulled a muscle in his back while fastening his toe strap!

To put Hall’s streak in perspective, Devan Dubnyk led all goalies in appearances during the league’s most recent full, 82-game season, playing in 67 contests. Hall, who also pioneered the butterfly goaltending style, didn’t have a backup for most of his career and was expected to suit up for what was then 70 times a season.

Glenn Hall (THW Archives)

Who Said It

1) ”I think it just helps [on the ice] when you have a great family life, to be able to come home to my wife and two young kids, they don’t care what happens on the ice, they just want their dad home. It’s a great feeling and it takes your mind away from overthinking the game.”

A. Evan Rodrigues
B. Cam Atkinson
C. Matt Duchene

2) “Growing up in Green Bay, there’s one thing you know, and that’s the Green Bay Packers. Basically, everybody from the city and the whole state are diehard fans. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember.”

A. Craig Smith
B. Mason Appleton
C. Alex Galchenyuk

3) “Until you play so many games, [nerves are] always going to be there. They were there all four of the games last year. You just kind of embrace them. You roll with it. Maybe not eat as much in the afternoon as I usually do, a little less appetite.”

A. Pavel Francouz
B. Charlie Lindgren
C. Michael Houser

Yutaka Fukufuji: The 1st Japanese-Born NHLer

Last Saturday, Abbotsford Canucks forward Yushiroh Hirano made history when he put a one-timer into the net 10 seconds into a game against the San Diego Gulls. The 26-year-old forward from Tomakomai, Japan, became the first Japanese-born player to score a goal in the American Hockey League.

Hirano is hoping to become the first skater born in Japan to reach the NHL. Several players of Japanese descent, headlined by Montreal Canadiens star Nick Suzuki, are in the league, but only one person born in the country has made it: goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji. Let’s get to know him:

Yutaka Fukufuji, pictured here with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs
(TheAHL via Wikimedia Commons)
  • Fukufuji was born on Sep. 17, 1982, in Kushiro, Japan, on the island of Hokkaido.
  • He was selected 238th overall (eighth round) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
  • Like Hirano, he began his North American career in Cincinnati, playing nine games for the ECHL’s Cyclones in 2003.
  • He played 191 career games in the ECHL and seven career games in the AHL.
  • On Dec. 15, 2006, he became the first Japan-born player to dress for an NHL game.
  • On Jan. 13, 2007, he became the first person from Japan to play in the NHL, replacing Kings starter Barry Brust for the third period of the team’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
  • On Jan. 16, 2007, he became the first person from Japan to start an NHL game, getting the nod against the Atlanta Thrashers. He was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots over 21:53 in net.
  • On Jan. 18, 2006, he played two more games in relief against the Blues and Phoenix Coyotes.
  • In total, he appeared in four NHL games (one start), going 0-3-0 with 43 saves and seven goals allowed.
  • He went to Europe to continue his pro hockey career in 2009.
  • He is still active and currently plays for the Nikko Icebucks of Asia League Ice Hockey while also representing Japan as a member of the national team.

“Who Said It” Answers

1) A. Evan Rodrigues
2) B. Mason Appleton
3) C. Michael Houser

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