knew it was getting close.
“It” being his 700th game in the NHL, which he'll play in Dallas on Tuesday, a notable milestone if not simply for the longevity it conveys.
“I knew that a couple days ago,” he said. “My wife filled me in on that.”
McClement, 31, is in his 10th NHL season, and of his nine previous, he logged 80 or more games in six of them, four times with the St. Louis, once with Colorado and once with Toronto; and, if you count 2010-11, when he was traded from St. Louis to Colorado, he’s played in 80 or more games in seven of those seasons.
That spells a good bit of durability for the two-way forward.
“There’s definitely some luck involved, too. I’ve been fortunate with injuries in my career,” he said. “There are some things you can’t avoid, but I try to make sure I do the right things off the ice and train the right way in the offseason in order to try to avoid the things you can control.”
After spending two seasons in Toronto, McClement singed with Carolina as a free agent on July 2. He said then that he was excited about the opportunity, brought in to be a reliable depth center and a vital asset on the penalty kill.
Now 17 games into the regular season, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound centerman seems to have settled into his role.
“I just try to complement the guys up front, kill penalties and try to take a lot of pride in those little things that hopefully add up to more victories,” he said. “Obviously we didn’t get off to the start we wanted, and even though in the last couple of games we haven’t got the results, we’re still playing like the team everybody in here thought we’d be. We’re making strides as a group, for sure.”
The Hurricanes rank third in the NHL with a 53.2 faceoff win percentage. McClement is a driving force of that success, as he ranks fourth in the NHL with a 58.8 faceoff win percentage.
“He’s been a good addition, for sure,” head coach Bill Peters said. “He’s been solid on our penalty kill, and he’s provided us with good, consistent two-way play. He’s a very responsible player and good on faceoffs.”
So, with game No. 700 in the books tonight, what’s next? 800? 900?
“I hope so,” McClement smiled.
He’ll start with No. 701, though.
“Exactly,” he said. “I definitely can’t take any day for granted in this league. It’s a privilege to be able to do this for a living, and it’s something you have to enjoy every day.”