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Fort Nucks: Ironman

...Canucks assistant coach still holds impressive NHL record

by Derek Jory @NoJoryous / Canucks writer

Here I was thinking Tony Stark was Ironman.  

The true Ironman goes by the name of Doug Jarvis, Canucks assistant coach, who never missed a game in his NHL career. He played for Montreal, Washington and Hartford for 964 games between Oct. 8, 1975 and Oct. 10, 1987.

WHAAAAAAAAAT?!

Jarvis owns the NHL, MLB & NBA record for most consecutive games to start a career and the record for most consecutive games in NHL history. Not far behind him, yet still very far behind him, is Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano, whose streak will hit 802 tonight against the Canucks. Cogliano's streak is the NHL's longest in more than 23 years, since Steve Larmer's 884th consecutive game took place on Apr. 15, 1993. 

Impressive stuff. 

When Jarvis, who was picked 24th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft, but was shipped to Montreal shortly after, appeared in his first NHL game with the Canadiens on October 8, 1975, a 9-0 win over the LA Kings, he was just happy to have made the team. Montreal was savagely good, featuring eventual Hall of Famers Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lapointe, Jacques Lemaire, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey and Ken Dryden. They won the Stanley Cup that season, losing only one game in the playoffs. 

Jarvis loved hockey and had great teammates. He took things day-by-day, game-by-game. He played 80 games in his first season, and the next, and the next, for seven straight years in Montreal. When he was traded to the Capitals in 1982, Jarvis played another three full seasons and 25 games into his fourth, before joining the Whalers. Parts of three seasons later and he had 964 straight games under his belt. 

One close call comes to mind for Jarvis, who laughed about back-to-back games in Detroit and St. Louis he played while with Washington. His streak likely should have ended then and there. 

"I got knocked out right at the end of the game and really didn't come to for a while," said Jarvis. "I was checked out and at that time, players just kept on playing, and the doctors felt there was no reason I shouldn't keep playing. Nowadays obviously that kind of thinking has changed, the right protocols are in place for the players, but that was the closest I came to missing a game." 

The Capitals beat the Blues 4-2 that second game with Jarvis in the line-up. He said everyone played through bumps and bruises back then, as they do now, and luckily he was never seriously hurt. The four-time Stanley Cup champion, who won the Selke Trophy in 1983-84 and the Masterton Tropy in 1986-87, is proud of his achievement, but happier he's able to live a healthy life after such a gruelling career. 

When Jarvis was an assistant coach with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars, a position he held for 14-years from 1988 to 2002, NBA power forward A.C. Green, then with the Dallas Mavericks, became the NBA's Ironman playing in his 907th of 1,192 consecutive games. There was an Ironman ceremony for Green, which also featured Jarvis and MLB Ironman Cal Ripken Jr. When the three talked post-game, the main theme was health.  

"We were all lucky to have such long careers," smiled Jarvis. "I feel blessed in the sense that I was able to play the game and walk away with my knees and shoulders intact, because for a lot of players that isn't the case, regardless of the sport. The game takes a toll on them and they don't have everything functioning healthwise at the end. I'm grateful."

 

These days Jarvis is one of the first people - players or coaches - on the ice for game day skate or practice and the 62-year-old from Brantford, Ontario, is showing no signs of slowing down. Asked about Cogliano, Jarvis tipped his hat.

"Every era has it's own elements and obstacles, it's an impressive streak considering the speed and the size of players today. What goes along with that too is the players' ability to stay in the line-up from a playing point-of-view, being good for a long time, it shows real consistency in his game." 

FYI Marvel movie people: Jarvis would be happy to appear as Ironman in Avengers: Infinity Wars.

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