RALEIGH — The Anaheim Ducks visit Raleigh Sunday to play a 5 p.m. game just 22 hours after the start of their game Saturday in Tampa Bay.
It’s not the best-case scenario for a banged-up team that is without forward — and former Hurricane — Patrick Eaves (a scary diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome) and defensemen Cam Fowler (knee) and Kevin Bieksa (hand).
But one guy you can count on being on the ice both nights is Andrew Cogliano.
Cogliano, 30 and in his 11th NHL season, is the league’s reigning Ironman. He is set to play consecutive game No. 796 in Tampa on Saturday — the fourth-longest streak in NHL history. Former Canadiens, Capitals and Whalers forward Doug Jarvis is atop the list at 964 games.
Jarvis’ run began with his first NHL game in 1975 and didn’t end until his final game in the league in 1987. Cogliano’s streak also started with his first NHL game, back on Oct. 4, 2007, with the Oilers and stretched through four seasons in Edmonton and now his seventh year in Anaheim.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour said Saturday following Carolina’s practice. “I don’t care that a lot of people say, ‘Well it’s a different game now,’ and it is, for sure, there’s a lot less physicality now.
“But you can’t play that long and not play through a lot of injuries and play through sicknesses,” he added. “You’re going to have things that you gutted it out. Obviously he’s done that, so that’s a huge kudos to him.”
Brind’Amour would know. He played 484 consecutive regular season games for the Flyers from Feb. 24, 1993, until the end of the 1998-99 season. He’s still bothered by the way his streak ended.
“I got a slap shot in the foot in the preseason game that I wasn’t even supposed to be playing in,” he said. “It’s a bitter pill for me because it’s one of those back in the day where we played three in three, and the rules were different and they stuck me in and I took a shot off the foot and … done.”
He didn’t play until Dec. 22 that season, and less than a month later after just 12 games, he was dealt to Carolina in a trade that sent Keith Primeau to Philadelphia.
Brind’Amour said keep the streak intact was a factor in playing some nights when other players maybe wouldn’t.
“I think it does come in to play … but it’s a good thing,” he said. “I think it’s a motivating thing, too. You just want to keep going. And you know what? I think guys like that, they play because they don’t want to come out out of the lineup and let someone else take their spot.
“And that’s what motivates [Cogliano], I’m sure. He’s an old-school guy in that way, I’m sure.”
The streak served as a motivator for Brind’Amour and now is a bit of a reminder of a bygone era.
“I think it’s changed,” he said. “Guys don’t think that way anymore. They’re like, “Eh, I can be out, I’m coming right back’ and blah blah blah. I know, at least when I was playing, it was, you don’t want to come out and give somebody your spot. And I think [Cogliano] plays that way.”
Cogliano’s streak has amazingly stretched 300-plus games beyond Brind’Amour’s, and toughness and work ethic— two attributes the former Hurricanes captain was known for — factor in. But there’s more — and unspoken understanding between players who have managed to accomplish such a streak.
“Fluke things happen, so it’s surprising to play that long and not have just a freak injury,” Brind’Amour said. “It shows to me — I give him a lot of props, let’s put it that way.”
The two are linked as memorable NHL Ironmen, but both are also Canadians who wound up playing NCAA hockey in the same state — Brind’Amour at Michigan State, where his son Skyler will being play in 2019, and Cogliano at rival Michigan.
“Well, I won’t hold that against him,” Brind’Amour said.