CHICAGO -- If 40-year old defenseman Sean O'Donnell suits up on Sunday night for the Chicago Blackhawks, as expected, it will be the 1,200th game of his 17-year NHL career.
It would also make him the seventh active NHL player to reach that career milestone, which is something that O'Donnell will enjoy putting next to his career bio.
O'Donnell, who signed a one-year contract with the Hawks last summer, knew he was well within striking distance of his 1,200th game as this season started – but also knew he needed to stay off the injury report as much as possible to get there.
"It's just something I can be proud of," said O'Donnell, who has five assists in 26 games. "I'm not the kind of player that usually gets a ton of individual awards, so I think turning 40 this year and playing this many games kind of goes hand in hand with staying healthy."
O'Donnell said that getting to the 1,000-game mark was a major accomplishment, as well, and every milestone afterward is "gravy."
"Once you get within 25 or 30 (games of 1,200), you start to think that would be a fun thing to do," he said after Chicago's morning skate on Sunday at the United Center. "I don't see (1,300) happening, but I'll enjoy 1,200."
And, in case you're wondering, he does remember the first NHL game he ever played as a Los Angeles Kings rookie. The Kings were facing the Dallas Stars during 1994-95 season and O'Donnell got the pleasure of trying to stop former Stars superstar Mike Modano.
"I can still remember being on the bench nervous," O'Donnell said. "It was the second or third shift of the game and they told me to go. I was playing with Marty McSorley and they told me to go and I looked up and Modano had the puck coming down. It's something that you can sort of remember like it was yesterday. There's those certain moments in a career that you'll never forget and that's certainly one of them. (Modano) came flying down and Kelly Hrudey was the goalie and made the save."