The N.H.L. has been disrupted several times since 2009, by labor disputes and a pandemic. But each time Phil Kessel’s team has taken the ice, he has laced up his skates.
On Tuesday night, Kessel, 35, a right wing for the Vegas Golden Knights, played in his 990th consecutive N.H.L. game, setting the ironman record for his league. He bettered the mark of Keith Yandle, set last season. Yandle retired from the Philadelphia Flyers at the tip of last season.
“I don’t know. I just attempt to play irrespective of what,” he told reporters. “I’ve been fortunate over time.”
The string included time with the Maple Leafs, Penguins, Coyotes and Golden Knights, whom he joined this season. His profession has included two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, an Olympic silver medal with the USA in 2010 and exactly 400 N.H.L. goals, with the four-hundredth coming within the ironman record breaker Tuesday night.
Before the streak, he had a successful battle with testicular cancer in his rookie season with the Bruins. Kessel has periodically been the goal of criticism that he’s chubby or out of practice, an insult greater than belied by his on-ice performance and longevity.
Ironman streaks are unusual records, and sometimes considered difficult to interrupt. When one does fall, old-timers often say it can last endlessly because modern players “aren’t as tough” or “are only in it for the cash.”
But such records in a way are more attainable than 762 home runs or 164 rushing touchdowns, which might require sustained brilliance. After all, to be an ironman it’s essential to be adequate to play at the highest level for a very long time. But beyond that, what’s needed is durability, the determination never to miss a game, luck and maybe an understanding manager.
Listed below are the players in the opposite venerable North American sports leagues with that type of willpower.
M.L.B.: Cal Ripken Jr.
By far essentially the most famous ironman streak belongs to Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles, who played in 2,632 consecutive baseball games.
Ripken’s record chase in 1995 was followed closely by fans and covered fastidiously by the news media. When he broke the record, he circled Camden Yards, high-fiving fans in a moment often cited as one of the memorable in sports of the last decade, and even the century. It looked as if it would tell fans that baseball was back after a demoralizing player strike which had ended earlier that season.
President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were readily available, together with a number of baseball greats, and the news made the front page of The Recent York Times.
Ripken’s streak was particularly memorable since it broke that of the legendary Lou Gehrig, whose own string of two,130 games ended only because he was dying of A.L.S., which might come to be referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
N.B.A.: A.C. Green
A.C. Green holds the record, playing in 1,192 straight N.B.A. games. He broke the previous mark of 906 in 1997, surpassing Randy Smith. An A.B.A. player, Ron Boone, played in 1,041 straight, and eventually Green passed that one too.
Green is most remembered for his titles as a job player for the Showtime Lakers alongside Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He moved on to the Suns, where the streak was in the most important jeopardy. J.R. Reid of the Knicks elbowed Green within the mouth, knocking out two teeth. Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons kept the streak alive by playing Green in a face mask for just a couple of minutes in a dozen or so games.
When he broke the N.B.A. record, he had moved on to the Mavs. Coverage of the record breaker was not as distinguished or laudatory as for Ripken. Lots of the articles seemed preoccupied with Green’s self-proclaimed status as a virgin, a little bit of trivia that tended to overshadow a solid and tenacious profession.
N.F.L.: Jeff Feagles
When you needed to guess what type of player would manage never to miss a game for 20 years or more within the brutal N.F.L., you’ll probably guess kicker or punter.
And also you could be right. Punter Jeff Feagles played every game from 1988 to 2010, a string of 352 for the Patriots, Eagles, Cardinals, Seahawks and Giants. The streak ended together with his retirement after the 2009 season.
But a powerful honorable mention goes to Brett Favre, who managed 299 straight (297 as a starter) from 1992 to 2010. Quarterback will not be only one of the injury-prone positions on the sector, but is commonly specifically targeted for injury by rampaging edge rushers. “The opposite team’s quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard,” the Raiders owner Al Davis once said. Favre went down, but at all times got up again for 18 years.