To hear Vancouver Canucks senior advisor Doug Jarvis tell it, the 964 consecutive games he played to earn the NHL’s iron man title was more of a happy accident than something chased with intention.
Sure, he had good luck, good genes and good joints. But the streak — which started in 1975 and ended in 1987 — was also achieved in an era where expectations meant playing in games he probably shouldn’t have.
For instance, there was that night in Detroit when Jarvis, then with Washington, was trying for an empty net goal.
“It was roughly the 700-game mark,” he said. “I got body checked at centre ice and my helmet partially came off. I didn’t remember a thing until the back of my head was stitched up.
“Certainly in today’s game that would have ended the streak with the concussion protocols that are in place,” he said.
Improvements in player safety surely helped the now 66-year-old hang on to the iron man title for so long.
But after 34-plus years, Jarvis is happy to see someone else finally claim it with Philadelphia defenceman Keith Yandle poised to tie the streak Monday night, and then break it Tuesday with consecutive game number 965.
“The speed of the game, the size of the players — to be able to put a streak together like he has in today’s game, my hat is off to him,” said Jarvis.
“I’m happy this mark is going to be passed because for me it means a player… has been able to stay healthy and I really wish that for every player because we know there’s a lot of life if lived after a career.”
Jarvis won four Stanley Cup titles with the Montreal Canadiens at the start of his NHL career. He also played for Washington and Hartford before retiring and moving into coaching.
He joined the Canucks as an assistant coach in 2016 and moved into the advisory position two years later.
Yandle, 35, started his iron man streak on March 26, 2009.
“There’s been some times I’ve not felt great. It was tough sledding. But it’s one of those things where you just try to battle through it and help out your team,” he said.
Yandle may not hold the iron man title for long. Arizona’s Phil Kessel, 34, is sitting at 940 consecutive games and remains a productive player.
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