The journey to 1,000 National Hockey League games requires countless hours and immeasurable dedication to the game of hockey. One-thousand games translates into at least 6,000 hours of hockey just from games, plus practice, off-season training, playoffs, shinny and junior hockey. If it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, then tonight, Steve Staios is right there.
|Steve Staios has been a leader in every city he has played. Tonight, it's for the 1,000th time. |
Staios will suit up for his 1,000th regular season game, a feat only accomplished by 278 other players spanning the 94-year history of the NHL.
"It just kind of sneaks up on you," Staios said. "For me especially because I've tried to just stay in the moment, stay day-to-day and that's helped me with my preparation over the years. You get close to this and then you get this flood of memories that come back to you. It's been really great."
The 38-year-old's path to 1,000 games began on Mar. 21, 1996 as a member of the Boston Bruins. He remembers the 3-0 win over Ottawa well, but being paired with hockey Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque, it would be hard to forget.
"Game number one was good. Game number two not so good," he joked saying him and Bourque conceded a goal on the first shift. (According to Staios, it was Ray's fault.)
Staios played 66 games over two seasons for the Bruins before making stops in Vancouver (143), Atlanta (97), Edmonton (573), Calgary (57) and Long Island (63).
A durable defenseman, Staios played a full 82-game season three times, and over 70 games eight times. Staios learned from 1,000 game veterans and young guys alike the proper approach to preparing for games to enjoy a long career.
"I think you can pick up things from everybody," he said. "Every individual is a little bit different, so I've learned some good lessons. I've been able to reflect and I've played with some great players."
He's a warrior. He's really a team player and he does everything for the success of the team." - Islanders captain Mark Streit
He's help a leadership role almost everywhere he's played, sporting a C in Atlanta and an A in Edmonton. Now a veteran presence and assistant captain on a young Islanders squad, Staios is passing along what he's learned to the next generation.
"On a personal level I'm very thankful that he was here this year," stall-mate Travis Hamonic said. "He's never hesitant to pull me aside and give me some constructive advice and I'm always happy to hear it because the guy's played 1,000 games in the NHL. That's a pretty special feat and I'm happy to be sharing this moment with him."
Offensively, Staios's best seasons were in Edmonton, where the Hamilton, ON native scored 28 points twice (2003-04, 2005-06). During his 15-year career, Staios has racked up 220 points (56g/164a).
On the back end, Staios has sacrificed his body for the team with 134 blocked shots this season. In 2007-08, Staios was fourth in the NHL dropping down in front of 187 pucks.
"He's a warrior," Mark Streit said. "He's really a team player and he does everything for the success of the team."
It's customary for a player's family to be present at their first NHL game. Now 5,859 days since his debut, his family and friends will be in the stands at Nassau Coliseum, watching him for the 1,000th time, his expertise on display.