Predators captain Jason Arnott is one of the most respected veterans in the NHL. Originally a top-10 pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1993 Draft, Arnott has achieved both team and personal success during his career – Stanley Cup Champion, World Junior Gold Medalist, NHL Rookie of the Year, two-time NHL All-Star, and NHL team captain. He’s compiled an impressive career highlight reel and recently he added another honor. On December 20 in Nashville’s win over the NY Islanders, Arnott skated in his 1000th career NHL game, the league’s premier marker for career longevity.
“It was huge,” Arnott said after the December 20 game. “You could tell all the guys were trying extra extra hard out there to get the win. Everyone played extremely well. This is one I will never forget.”
|Inside the Numbers: |
Arnott's 1000th Game
Take a look inside the numbers of Jason Arnott's first 1000 career NHL games.
Drafted: 1993 by Edmonton (7th overall)
Draft City: Quebec
Games Played by Team
Edmonton – 286
New Jersey – 302
Dallas – 236
Nashville – 176 (as of 1000th game played on Dec. 20)
Stanley Cup Titles: 1 (2000 with New Jersey)
All-Star Game Appearances: 2 (1997 & 2008)
NHL Debut: Oct. 6, 1993 vs. San Jose (with Edmonton)
First NHL Goal: Oct. 6, 1993 vs. Artur Irbe (San Jose)
Most Goals in a Season: 33 in 1993-94 with Edmonton
Most Points in a Season: 76 in 2005-06 with Dallas
20-Goal Seasons: 11 (including each of the last 9 seasons)
50-Point Seasons: 10 (including each of the last 4 seasons)
Arnott was a highly regarded prospect coming up through the Junior ranks and one of the elite players in the Ontario Hockey League his draft year. The hard work paid off in Quebec City in June 1993 when the Edmonton Oilers selected the Collingwood, Ontario native with the seventh overall selection in the ‘93 draft.
“I had all of my family and friends there, it was in Quebec. It was such an exciting day just to be a part of the NHL. It was an exciting time, especially growing up in a small town that was only about 1,100 people. Just to be around all the NHL clubs and to be drafted was such a huge honor. Just to be a part of that day was something I will never forget.”
That was just beginning of the journey. Three months later Arnott was in Edmonton’s training camp.
“It was really nerve wracking but there were a lot of guys that took me under their wing and helped me along the way my first few years and showed me the ropes. I was kind of in awe just being there. We played San Jose in the season opener and I scored my first goal that day. My mom and dad were in town and they came in to see me play my first game and we won and I got a goal. I can only fully remember little bits and pieces of it; I was just awe struck being there with how many fans were there and being in the building that Gretzky and Messier played it. It was awesome.”
Training camp led to a stellar rookie campaign, during which Arnott scored 33 goals and 68 points, despite missing time in December and January to compete for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. He started the season off with goal in his NHL debut and went on to earn The Hockey News Rookie of the Year honors for 1994 and a spot on the NHL’s All-Rookie Team. He was also a runner-up for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, getting edged out by Martin Brodeur – a future teammate in New Jersey.
After four and half seasons in Edmonton, Arnott was part of a blockbuster trade which saw him move from Northern Alberta to New York City, when New Jersey General Manager Lou Lamoriello packaged Bill Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin for Arnott and a prospect. That started a string of tremendous team success for the big center. His line, dubbed “The A-line” – with Arnott centering wingers Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora – earned recognition as one of the elite lines in hockey. During the 2000-01 season the trio combined for 96 goals, 232 points, and a +104 plus/minus rating.
But the culmination came in June 2000. The Devils raced through the Eastern Conference playoffs by knocking off Florida and Toronto in the first two rounds before rallying from two games down in the Conference Finals vs. Philadelphia to win the final three games of the series and earn an appearance in the Cup Finals against defending champion Dallas Stars. With the Devils leading the series three games to one, Dallas won a triple overtime thriller in Game 5. Game 6 in Dallas also went into overtime … and then a second overtime … before Arnott scored at the 8:20 mark of the second OT period to close out the game and the series and give the Devils the Stanley Cup title.
At the 2002 Trade Deadline, Arnott was moved from the Devils to the Dallas Stars and in 2005-06 posted his best statistical season with a career-high 76 points to go along with 32 goals – his first 30-goal campaign since his rookie year.
In the summer of ’06 Arnott, a free agent, signed on with the Nashville Predators. He helped lead the team to the playoffs in each of his seasons with the squad and last year was awarded the team’s captaincy.
“Trotzie (Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz) called me for lunch with Peter (Horachek) and Brent (Peterson), so the coaching staff was there. And they just told me (about the captaincy) over the meeting we had during lunch. It’s one of the biggest honors on any team to receive it. It means the world to me. It’s something I really wanted. I played a long time; played under a lot of captains in the league. I felt that this was a team that I would love to lead, love to help out. We have a young group that’s got so much potential, so it was a huge honor just to receive it.”
The “C” – a burden for many the first time they receive the honor – has helped elevate his game to new levels. Last season he scored 28 goals and 72 points, the second highest point total of his career. His play was recognized across the league and he was awarded with a spot on the Western Conference All-Star Team, his second career All-Star Appearance.
“(Having the captaincy) kind of drives me a little bit to go out and play hard and try to lead by example, because I know someone’s always watching, always picking up little cues, someone on your team is always watching the captain. No question it’s a hard job, but I thrive on it; I love being it and I wouldn’t have it any other way than to lead this group in here.”
At 34-years old, the 1000th game ceremony is far from the end of the line for the talented center. Arnott leads the Preds with 15 goals on the ice, is the central figure in the locker room, and is well positioned to add many more chapters to his career highlights.