Every player will tell the media they do not care about individual statistics. They will say they only focused on the team because reaching an individual milestone is nowhere near as satisfying as the Stanley Cup but, reaching a famous plateau could be the highlight of a player's career.
NHL players are the least selfish players in the four major sports. They sacrifice their bodies for the team and stick up for one another, putting their long-term health at jeopardy. So when a player reaches a milestone, the hockey community comes together to congratulate that player.
This season the hockey community will come together to celebrate career achievements of some popular players. So here are five milestones that can be reached this season.
Eleven players have registered 1000 assists in the NHL and 10 are in the Hall of Fame (nine as of now but I'm assuming Joe Sakic will get in. Adam Oates is the only player to not be included). If Jagr can assist on 47 goals this year, he will be the next member of the exclusive 1000 points club.
When he registers his first point this year, he will surpass 1600 NHL points.
Ilya Kovalchuk broke into the NHL in 2001-02 with 29 goals. Now he sits at 369 career goals, needing only 31 to reach the 400 goal plateau. He scored 31 goals in a bad year last season so he should reach this easily if he stays healthy.
Marian Hossa sits just 12 goals behind 400. Although his goal scoring has slowed down with age, he should get a chance to reach 500. Last year he scored 26 goals, so he could reach 400 by the middle of the year.
Daniel Alfredsson is the closest to 400 goals. He currently has 389. After a year full of injuries and disappointment for Alfredsson last season, he should pull it together and easily reach this figure. Expect him to do it after the All-Star break.
Martin Brodeur is arguably the greatest goalie of in NHL history. However, when a goalie plays as long as Brodeur, he is going to flirt with the all-time losses record. While Brodeur is known as a winner, this record is one to laugh at when looking back at his career.
Brodeur sits just two losses shy of the record, which is held by Curtis Joseph and Gump Worsley.
Also, Brodeur could be the first goalie ever to save 28,000 shots. If he can stop 2,024 shots this season, he will reach this figure.
Miikka Kiprusoff sits just 24 wins away from 300, a feat which has been accomplished by only 25 other goalies in NHL history. Kiprusoff can reach this accomplishment by the All-Star break, but with a weak team, I believe the 300th win will happen just after the break ends.
Evgeni Nabokov is only seven wins away from 300. While he is competing for the starting goalie job with the Islanders, if he does not win the job, he will find employment with another team. No matter team he plays for, he should get the seven wins this season.
Jarome Iginla is one of the most popular NHL players amongst fans and players. While he plays in a relatively small market on the West Coast, all hockey fans realize the greatness of Iginla.
Iginla is only 16 goals away from 500. Having scored 43 goals last season, he should get 16 before the All-Star break. The hockey community is hoping that Iginla gets a shot to win the Stanley Cup, even though he is loved by the Calgary fans. If he reaches 500 goals, he will become the 42 player to do so.
The individual accomplishments of hockey players should be applauded by all fans and players alike. As the milestones for this year become closer, the anticipation will be building amongst NHL fans.
While all of these players would surely trade their individual stats for a team win, these milestones are huge moments in these players' lives. It should be fun to watch these milestones be reached this season.
Did I forget an accomplishment? Let it be known in the comments section.
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