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Jordan Staal: Day One to Game 1,000

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

When the puck drops on Monday night at PNC Arena, Jordan Staal will log his 1,000th career game in the National Hockey League.

Staal, who has played 568 games and counting in a Carolina Hurricanes' sweater, is the epitome of what it means to don the team's crest.

With some help from teammates, coaches and more, here's a journey back through Staal's career, from day one to game No. 1,000.

June 24, 2006: Pittsburgh Selects Staal 2nd Overall in 2006 NHL Entry Draft

Eric Staal was selected second overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Two years later, the New York Rangers selected Marc Staal 12th overall. A year later, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Jordan Staal with the second overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.

Jordan: "When your whole family is there to support you, it's exciting. It's another proud moment as a young player being able to even be there for that first round and know you're going to be able to go early. It's a cool feeling. Walking up on that stage and Gary Bettman telling you, 'Welcome to the NHL,' was a really cool moment for me and something I'll never forget."

Oct. 5, 2006: Staal Makes NHL Debut

Not even a month removed from his 18th birthday, Staal made his NHL debut for the Penguins against the Philadelphia Flyers. He played 12:03 and recorded two shots.

Staal: "My first season was crazy. It was the most goals I've scored since I've been in the league, so I'm trying to catch that season still. The pucks were going in for me. It was kind of a win-win. I wasn't really expected to be there, so every day I just wanted to go out and play and have fun. Playing with Malkin, I had a great second half with him."

Oct. 12, 2006: Staal Scores First NHL Goal

In his third game of his rookie season, Staal netted his first career NHL goal, a shorthanded tally against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers.

In fact, Staal's first three goals in the league were shorthanded tallies, the first player to do so since 1982. Staal set an NHL record for most shorthanded goals in a rookie season with seven in 2006-07. 

Staal: "You'll never forget your first NHL goal. It was shorthanded at MSG in New York City. All that added to the awesome factor of just being there."

Feb. 10, 2007: Staal Records First Hat Trick

In his first game in Toronto, Staal became the youngest player in NHL history to score a hat trick at 18 years and 153 days old.

Staal: "The hat trick was a really amazing night in Toronto. All my buddies who are Leafs fans weren't too happy with me. It was a great first season, obviously, with a lot of really cool memories."

April 11, 2007: Staal Scores First NHL Playoff Goal

In 96 career NHL postseason games, Staal has totaled 27 goals. He scored his first in his first playoff game in the Penguins first-round series against the Ottawa Senators. Though Pittsburgh bowed out in five games, Staal scored three goals, tied for the team lead with Sidney Crosby.

Nov. 11, 2008: Staal Scores Hat Trick in Third Period, Assists on Overtime-Winning Goal in Comeback Win

Five months after the Red Wings bested the Penguins in six games in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, the two teams rematched in the regular season. Detroit had a 5-3 lead until Staal scored 8:09 into the third to bring Pittsburgh within a goal. The Red Wings got the goal back a couple minutes later to make it 6-4. Staal tallied twice more in the final five minutes of the third period, tying the game at six with just 23 seconds left. In overtime, Staal stripped Pavel Datsyuk of the puck and fed Ruslan Fedotenko for the game-winning goal.

Penguins @ Red Wings 11/11/08

Staal: "Another cool game against a great team, our rivals. It was one of those games I was kind of frustrated the first and second period. Just kind of tried to turn my mind off and go out and play. Once the first one went in, our team got some momentum. I think I got some lucky bounces for sure on the next two. Getting into overtime, in the moment then at that point. I think I pick-pocketed somebody and then turned around and Fedsy, I've seen him score a ton of those goals from the outside on those 2-on-1 passes, so I just put it in an area for him and he did the rest."

June 12, 2009: Staal, Penguins Win Stanley Cup

Jordan and the Penguins swept Eric and the Canes in the 2009 Eastern Conference Final and then rematched against the Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. Staal scored critical goals in Games 4 and 6, and the Penguins got their revenge in seven games.

Staal: "It's what you dream of as a kid to be the ultimate champion of a sport and to be able to do it with your friends and share it with your family. You look at pictures, but those memories are always ingrained in your mind, and they'll always be there. It's something I definitely want to do again and have been chasing ever since."

June 22, 2012: Canes Acquire Staal From Penguins

At the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, the Canes acquired Staal from the Penguins in exchange for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the eighth-overall pick (Derrick Pouliot).

Don Waddell: "Jim did a great job with that. I always say that we make a lot of deals hoping they work out. There are some deals you make that you know are going to work. This is one that when Jim made the move here, he knew it was going to work out."

Rod Brind'Amour: "It's a huge, huge deal to get a player who I think is a franchise player. You want to keep these guys forever. The reason is they help build your culture. You build around these players, and they're hard to find. When you get them, you want to keep them. I think it's great that we were able to get him at a young age, and he had already had an experience of winning and being around people that won."

The news of the trade broke at Staal's wedding reception.

Tripp Tracy: "Krepelka turns to me and goes, 'Emmet, I've got to go tell him he's been traded.' Jordan and Heather have just been married, and they're going table to table to thank everybody, and he's got to go tell him, 'Hey, listen, you just got dealt.' I'll always remember that."

Staal: "Right in the middle of appetizers and entrees, the whole room kind of went quiet. A lot of murmurs and whispering. Paul came up and told me I was traded to Carolina. It was a hard moment for a while there. There were some tears in talking to some guys, but as the night went on, it turned out to be an awesome night. It was way better that they were there rather than mid-summer, maybe a couple texts or calls. It was actually great to have a few drinks, hang out with them and really have a great night together."

July 1, 2012: Canes Sign Staal to 10-Year Extension

The Canes then wasted no time in signing Staal to a 10-year, $60 million contract extension, the same long-term deal he declined in Pittsburgh.

Jordan: "That stuff wasn't really on our radar until we got here, and then we start thinking about the possibilities. It starts to grow, and you start to think how cool that would be. Pittsburgh was talking about an extension with me, and I was like, 'Yeah, let's do it.' I think all Eric had to say was, 'If you sign that, we probably won't ever play together.' It was a no-brainer. I loved Pittsburgh and the guys there, but family is family. Being able to play with your brother was a dream come true."

Eric: "It was awesome. It was so great to have him. I knew with the type of person and player he is that he would only benefit the Hurricanes. For us to be able to spend those years together was phenomenal. We had good times and tough times and being able to share it together was special."

Feb. 4, 2013: Staal Scores First Goal with the Canes

Staal's first of now 118 goals with the Canes came eight games into the shortened 2012-13 season. In Toronto (where some big regular-season moments tend to happen for the Thunder Bay, Ont., native), Staal found a soft spot in the slot and was practically uncovered when he slid the puck past future teammate James Reimer.

Staal scores first goal with the Canes

April 25, 2013: Eric, Jordan and Jared Staal Start Alongside Each Other

It was a meaningless game in the standings for the Canes, but it wasn't without fanfare, as Jared Staal made his NHL debut alongside his brothers, Eric and Jordan. The three Staals - 11, 12 and 13 - played on the same line to begin the game against the New York Rangers. Though Marc was unfortunately sidelined with an eye injury, he was also in the building. The Staals became the fourth trio of brothers to play on one team in the same season in NHL history and the first since the Stastny brothers in 1984-85.

Video: Three Staal brothers in Carolina's starting lineup

Eric: "How many people can say they suited up with two of their siblings in the starting lineup of an NHL game? It doesn't get much better than that. It was a dream come true for Jared to play an NHL game. Those are memories and moments you cherish. Looking back, you realize how special they are. It was a fun night."

Jordan: "One of my favorite pictures - and I don't have a ton of stuff on my walls - is a picture of me, Eric and Jared on the blue line. It should be Marc on the other blue line in the background, but he was in the building. To have all four of us in one NHL building at the same time for a game was crazy, really. That stuff wasn't in our minds growing up, but Jimmy Rutherford giving Jared the opportunity to come up and play was really nice of him. Another really cool moment for our family and for J. That's definitely one my fondest memories, for sure."

March 16, 2019: Staal Records 500th Career NHL Point

Late in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres, in a game the Canes won 4-2, Staal spun off the defense of Brandon Montour to fire a backhand past Linus Ullmark for his 500th career NHL point. At the time, he had totaled 213 goals and 287 assists, and 252 of those points (93g, 159a) were scored in 451 games in a Canes' sweater.

Video: BUF@CAR: Staal pots spinning backhand for 500th point

Jaccob Slavin: "When I think of Jordo on the ice, I think of him just standing in front after tipping a puck and just giving you one of these [growls] and the double fist-pump down, just the most intense, happy look on his face. His 500th point, the spin-o-rama against Buffalo, that sticks out in my mind."

April 4, 2019: Staal, Canes Punch Ticket Back to Stanley Cup Playoffs

Staal played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his six seasons with the Penguins. He then spent six playoff-less seasons with the Canes.

That changed in 2019, as the Canes surged up the standings in the second half of the regular season and clinched their first playoff berth in a decade after a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils at home.


Staal: "I vividly remember looking at Faulker and being like, 'We finally did it.' We had obviously been there for a long time and been through a lot. It was a big moment. A lot of stress just trying to get in. It's not easy to do. We kind of took that feeling and relaxed a little bit. It was far too long for these fans not to see some playoff hockey, and we were just excited to be there. Then we just started playing hockey. Once we were in, it was kind of a win-win moment. We were happy to be there, but we knew we had a good team, as well. We kind of ran with that. It was kind of like my first year in the NHL with that feeling. We went out and played, had some fun and found a way to win some games."

April 24, 2019: Staal Ties Game 7 in Third Period

With the Canes trailing by a goal early in the third period of a do-or-die Game 7 in the 2019 First Round in Washington, Staal streaked down the right wing and snapped a shot far-side past Braden Holtby, a goal that was virtually identical to the one Eric scored on Martin Brodeur in Game 7 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm7: Staal pots snap shot to tie it in 3rd

Staal: "Playing against the defending Stanley Cup champs, and in Game 7s, you always want to be at your best. I loved the resilience of our team being down and just kind of sticking with it. I was glad to be a part of that comeback and score a big goal for our group. We kind of took the game over after that, I thought."

Sebastian Aho: "You can always bank on him. You just know he delivers. Every single game, every practice, he grinds. A great, great leader for us."

April 26, 2019: Staal Scores Overtime-Winning Goal in Game 1

Not even 48 hours later, in Game 1 of the Canes' Second Round series against the New York Islanders, Staal netted the game-winning goal in overtime in Brooklyn.

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm1: Staal fires home the overtime winner

Staal: "Really, it felt like a dream rolling into that next series. … I don't remember much of that goal. I remember grinding that game out. It was a tight game like it always is against the Islanders."

Justin Williams: "Jordan went through a little patch with the Hurricanes of not playing in the playoffs. Those are games you cherish and relish as a hockey player. He had that success early and lost it. When he got it back, it was such an adrenaline rush. 'I'm back where I need to be. This is where I want to play. These are the most fun games to play.' He really rose to the occasion and scored some huge goals for us in that playoff run."

Jordan Martinook: "He's been there and done it before. He's won a Cup. He knows how important each moment is, especially in the playoffs. His game is as playoff-ready as you can get. He's going to come up big because that's how he plays all year."

Sept. 29, 2019: Staal Named Hurricanes Captain

After previously serving as co-captain during the 2017-18 season and as an alternate captain during his other six seasons with the Canes (2012-17, 2018-19), Staal was named captain heading into the 2019-20 campaign.

Jordan: "You're always trying to be yourself and make sure that your day-to-day and character values are evident, so guys see what you're all about. I've also learned a lot from Willy and Roddy and Eric and a lot of guys on how to make sure our team is ready. I'm a small part of that, and I've grown into that a little bit better in making sure I'm ready and the guys around me are at their best, too."

Eric: "He's got such a care and character to him. Naturally, he has leadership abilities and tendencies. Guys are drawn to someone like that. His willingness to sacrifice whatever he needs to do in order to have team success is what makes him such a great leader."

Slavin: "He's intense, he's passionate, he cares and he works. He's a workhorse. I think everyone knows that. That's kind of how I've always been in my career and life - not necessarily talking that much but trying to lead by example and being a player who is consistent and bringing the best effort every night. When you have a captain who does that, it's easy to follow suit."

Martinook: "I think he goes unnoticed around the league a little bit with what he brings to our team, the intangibles he brings, all the stuff people don't notice that he does probably as best as anybody around. He doesn't get fired up or speak too often, but when he does, it's one of those things like, 'OK, we must not be doing something right.' It's his quietness but then just his play speaks for itself."

Tracy: "His ability to vocalize with candor, feel and veteran experience where the team is at has shown tremendous growth. I think that represents his comfort in that role in his own skin."

Brind'Amour: "The way we want to portray ourselves is based on the captain. He's everything we want to be. We want to do it right, we want to be hard-working, we want to be respectful, we want to show up every day and do our job. That's kind of how he is. Why wouldn't you want to be like that?"

April 12, 2021: Staal to Play in 1,000th Career NHL Game

Staal is set to play in his 1,000th career NHL game on Monday night. The Canes will celebrate this momentous milestone with a pregame ceremony, and Marc, who is 65 games away from being the third Staal brother to reach 1,000, will be in the building with the Detroit Red Wings.

Williams: "There are so many things that have to go your way and have to be right for that to happen. Obviously staying healthy. Being productive. Being a good pro and keeping yourself in good shape. Great family support. There's a lot that goes into it. It's not something that happens by fluke, and a lot of work is put into it not just by the player but the support staff around him. For him to reach it at such a young age is pretty awesome."

Martinook: "It's a big number, and it shows he's been around for a long time and been doing it at a high level for a long time. He comes dialed in every game. He still loves it and enjoys coming to the rink. We're a successful team and that helps, so he's having fun. Hopefully a lot more to come."

Waddell: "Playing 1,000 games is a huge milestone for a player and it's something that all these guys look up to. He's created this aura around him that guys just look to him and say, 'I should be doing the same thing he's doing.' I can't say enough good things about him. He's just such a great person."

Tracy: "it's a tremendous accomplishment. It just gives you a chance to take stock of the relationships, starting with your teammates, your coaching staff, his partner for life and wonderful wife Heather, being parents, his mom and dad. … It will just allow him to, maybe for a second, recognize that he has impacted so many people in such a positive manner. As a player, it's rarified air. Not a ton of guys do it."

Brind'Amour: "I think it's an accomplishment because you can't fake that. You can get by for a little while, but if you've lasted for 1,000 games, you've been doing something right. You're the real deal."

Eric: "It's huge. I don't know the exact number of guys who have reached that point, but I know there are significant, great players who played the game and never got there. It speaks to commitment, longevity and character. It's a great milestone, one he should be proud of. It's been fun to see him get to this point."

Jordan: "That list of 1,000 games with the players on it, you're in good company. I'm very proud of that. It is just games played, but it obviously shows you're able to stick in the league. It's not easy to be at that level for a long time, so I'm very proud of that. It's a cool achievement."

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