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Milestone warning ahead

Tuesday, 21.08.2007 / 3:44 PM / News
canadiens.com
Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski and Alex Kovalev have all come a long way since making their respective NHL debuts in 1992-93.
MONTREAL – While movie goers were finding out if they could “handle the truth” in movie theaters from coast-to-coast, another group of “A Few Good Men” were busy making their NHL debuts in 1992-93.

Now 15 years later, Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski and Alex Kovalev will all reach the 1,000-game mark shortly after the 2007-08 season gets underway in October. Reaching the coveted mark is impressive enough, but to have three teammates do it in the same year, let alone the same month, is unheard of.

In the long history of the Canadiens, only seven players have celebrated their 1,000th NHL game wearing a Habs sweater. Stephane Quintal was the last to do so when he suited up for a 3-1 win over the Sabres on Jan. 6, 2004 at the Bell Centre. That select list of Habs includes the likes of Bob Gainey, Henri Richard and Jean Beliveau.

Millennium Men
Team Player
GP
Roman Hamrlik
999

Bryan Smolinski

992

Alex Kovalev

991


Owen Nolan

991


Mike Sillinger

990


Keith Tkachuk

976

Hamrlik, Smolinski and Kovalev, who are a long way from having respectively cracked the NHL with the Lightning, Bruins and Rangers, will soon be among the 218 players to reach the mark. Eleven players were added last season led by Bill Guerin, Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne.

With 999 games under his belt, Hamrlik will have barely settled into his new stall in the Canadiens dressing room when he breaks into the select club on opening night against the Hurricanes in Carolina on Oct. 3. Hamrlik will also become only the fourth Czech player to do so, joining Jaromir Jagr, Bobby Holik and former Canadiens defenseman Petr Svoboda.

Smolinski will be the next in line. All signs point to the 35-year-old centerman enjoying his big night on Oct. 22 when the Habs face the Bruins at the Bell Centre, as Smolinski takes on the team that drafted him and gave him his first taste of NHL action. 

Last but not least, it will be Kovalev’s turn on Oct. 26 in Carolina, as he looks to become only the fourth Russian in NHL history to reach the milestone, following in the footsteps of Sergei Federov, Sergei Zhitnik and Sergei Zubov.

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com