By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
|Defenseman Bryan McCabe (Getty Images)
CORAL SPRINGS – Panthers captain Bryan McCabe was asked earlier this week what it would mean to play in his 1,000th NHL game Friday evening.
After allowing a smile to crease his mouth, McCabe replied, “It means I’m old.”
The 34-year-old McCabe, playing in his 15th NHL season, will become only the 247th or 248th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games come Friday when the Panthers play host to the Capitals at BankAtlantic Center. (Depending on whether the Rangers Donald Brashear, who also has played in 999 games, suits up against Edmonton tonight.) There will be a special presentation made to McCabe before the game.
“I’ve been very fortunate to last this long and be able to compete every night,” said McCabe, who’s played parts of those 1,000 games for the Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs and Panthers. “I was very fortunate to learn at a young age, I think by 25 I had figured it out, what it took to be a professional on and off the ice.”
McCabe recalled Thursday morning after practice here at incredible
ICE his first game in 1995 as an Islanders in Boston.
“I remember being across from Ray Bourque,” he said. “My legs were shaking during the anthem. I was in the starting lineup. It was a dream come true. I think I had 10 penalty minutes, too. Minors for tripping and hooking and stuff, but it was awesome.”
Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, who coached against a 19-year-old McCabe in junior hockey, called McCabe’s milestone an “amazing accomplishment.”
“To stay healthy in the best league in the world for that long and still be playing at the level he’s playing at 1,000 games in is an incredible feat, and something definitely worth the recognition that he’s going to get Friday from us and his fans.”
McCabe, playing his second season with the Panthers, gave credit to former teammates Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts for being mentors and to his strength coach Matt Nichol for “giving me all my programs in the summer and keeping me in great shape and keeping me quick at this old age.”
“I’ve been blessed to be able to stick around this long and make a living out of it,” he added. “Yeah, it’s tough. It’s not an easy job, getting hit every night with pucks and getting hit by some big bodies. It’s take a toll on your body but, like I said, if you do the work in the off-season usually your body will take care of you down the road.”
McCabe becomes the seventh player to play his 1,000 game in the Panther uniform. The others were: Scott Mellanby, Kirk Muller, Mike Foligno, Chris Gratton, Lyle Odelein and Greg Adams. BOOTH FEELING BETTER
David Booth, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion Oct. 16 in Philadelphia, said Thursday he’s feeling better and could begin some very light activity by the weekend.
“This is the longest I’ve gone without doing anything,” he said. “I don’t like it, but that’s part of the process and you have to stick with the program.”
Booth said his activity is currently limited to going for a walk or going in the pool. If he gets the clearance to begin workouts, it will be limited at the beginning to 10 minute bike rides. “That’s about it,” he said. “Very slow.” ALLEN GETTING COMFORTABLE
Defenseman Bryan Allen, who missed all but two games last season due to knee surgery, continues to get more comfortable. Allen played in back-to-back games last weekend for the first time this season, and his empty-net, short-handed goal Wednesday was his first since March of 2008.
“I think it’s definitely been a progression, but I still have a way to go,” he said. “But I’m feeling more comfortable. (The knee) responded well (last weekend), is still responding well, and it’s a confidence booster, too.”
Allen played 14:44 Wednesday against Carolina. He had two hits, was a plus-1, and played 3:17 while the Panthers were short-handed. NOTES
With back-to-back games this weekend against the Capitals, DeBoer was asked if he might split the games between goalies Tomas Vokoun (1:42.09 shutout streak) and Scott Clemmensen
: “Last weekend we thought we’d play (Clemmensen) on Friday night, and with a game less than 24 hours later and with travel we wanted to go with a fresh guy (Saturday),” he said. “That’s an option for us Saturday, but it’s a decision we’ll make after (Friday’s) game…Dominic Moore did not skate (nasal surgery)…Kamil Kreps did not skate due to a bruised foot suffered in Wednesday’s game. DeBoer said he believes Kreps would be able to play Friday…According to Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who beat a Capitals team Wednesday without Alex Ovechkin in the lineup, it’s just not the same. “The excitement level he brings, the energy that he brings to the table, that wasn’t there,” Brodeur told the Washington Post. Ovechkin is listed as week-to-week with a shoulder injury…