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Steen coming home to Winnipeg to play 1,000th NHL game for Blues

Forward will reach milestone where father played for original Jets

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Alexander Steen was about to return to the St. Louis Blues lineup in mid-December after missing 16 games because of a high ankle sprain and couldn't believe the timing of it all.

The forward was 20 games from his 1,000th NHL game and realized the milestone would come against the Winnipeg Jets, in the city where he was born and raised and against the team for whom his father, Thomas Steen, played.

"There have been a couple guys texting me about that," the younger Steen said. "[Former Blues teammate] Paul Stastny counted them out and texted me about that, how crazy it was. I talked to my [father] about it. It's funny how stuff like that happens, with all the injuries and games you play and things that could happen."

It will happen when the Blues visit the Jets at Bell MTS Place on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, CITY, SNW, FS-MW, NHL.TV). Steen, in his 16th NHL season, played his 999th game Friday, a 4-2 loss at the Edmonton Oilers.

It's a remarkable set of circumstances for the 35-year-old forward, who was out from Nov. 9-Dec. 12.

His father played 14 seasons for the Jets, who left Winnipeg after the 1995-96 NHL season to become the Phoenix Coyotes. Winnipeg got NHL hockey back in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to become the second incarnation of the Jets.

"And they didn't even have a team in Winnipeg for a long time. So for it to fall on this game is really cool," Steen said. "I'll have the whole family there, my parents, my brother and sister, and a lot of friends I grew up with there, family friends."

Video: BUF@STL: Steen stretches lead on big one-timer

Steen, who was born in Canada but has dual citizenship in Sweden, has 620 points (243 goals, 377 assists) in the NHL and will be the 13th Swede to play 1,000 regular-season games (747 for St. Louis, 253 for the Toronto Maple Leafs).

The occasion and the accompanying celebration arrives less than eight months after winning the Stanley Cup with the Blues last season. He said it has been a lot to absorb in less than a year.

"My father played for 14 years and that was my 14th year when we won," Steen said. "So within the family we've been trying for 28 years. He was extremely emotional after [winning] it and so was I. My family knew how much it meant to me. And to be able to do it in St. Louis, a community that's been so connected with our team for so long ... made it truly that much more special to me. Very emotional."

Thomas Steen, who played forward for the original Winnipeg Jets from 1981-95 and had 817 points (264 goals, 553 assists) in 950 games, said he can't believe his good fortune to see his son's 1,000th NHL game in Winnipeg.

"It brings back a lot of memories from when he was a kid to now," said the elder Steen, who is a scout for the Jets. "It's been an amazing journey to watch him and follow him and be with him when he was younger. It's a lot growing up in a hockey family and moving around.

"I've been in hockey so many years, I had no idea how good it was to be around that winning the Cup. It was so amazing, just to watch. It's so hard to win. So many things have to go right for so long. It's incredible all the things that came together. What an enormous experience, all of it."

Video: TBL@STL: Steen and his father share special milestone

Alexander Steen, who has 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 35 games this season, was the No. 24 pick of the 2002 NHL Draft by the Maple Leafs and said he has vivid memories of his first NHL game and first NHL goal, which came three days apart.

His first game was at home against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 5, 2005. His first goal was against Montreal Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore at home three days later, at 11:29 of the first period in a 5-4 loss to the Canadiens.

"My first game, a more surreal moment, sitting on that bench, you can't believe it," he said. "And with that team there, we had so many guys I grew up watching, especially Mats [Sundin]. That was a big thing for me.

"I scored in the next game, a big battle against Montreal. Always remember Tie [Domi] skating up to me and giving me big congrats, then he scored on the next shift. Those were special moments. I remember my goal, all the feelings and emotions."

In his fourth season with the Maple Leafs, Steen was traded to St. Louis with defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo for forward Lee Stempniak on Nov. 24, 2008. Now in his 12th season with the Blues, Steen is held in high regard by his teammates.

"He continues to contribute at a high level," said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues captain. "He's a guy that I've kind of grown with in this organization and learned a lot from. He's not going to like it, but I've got to learn from him because he's older than me. Just stating facts.

"But he's really been a big part of why this organization has been as solid as it's been for so long. You look at your core and how you want to build around it and guys that can really set the tone for the organization, especially with young guys coming in. There's no better example [than him]."

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