On Sergei Gonchar and his 1,000 games

OTTAWA ON - OCTOBER 26: Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Ottawa Senators along with his family acknowledges the crowd during a ceremony to celebrate his 1000th NHL regular season game before a game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Scotiabank Place on October 26 2010 in Ottawa Ontario Canada. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 5-2. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Even though only nine of Sergei Gonchar's 1,000 career NHL regular-season games have been played in an Ottawa Senators uniform, it's still fitting to give credit to a player who's put together a very impressive list of accomplishments. And good on the Senators organization for getting it right by honouring Gonchar properly, with the now-traditional silver stick and Tony Harris painting that comes with big accomplishments while in the franchise.

Gonchar's career in Ottawa has, to date, been mostly as an opponent. And as a pretty successful one: He was a member of the 1998 Washington Capitals team that knocked the Sens out of the playoffs, and although Ottawa got some revenge when they knocked him and a young Pittsburgh Penguins squad out in 2007, Gonchar and the Pens got the last laughs in 2008 and again in 2010. In 52 career regular-season games against the Senators, Gonchar has 10G and 26A. But he's a Senator now.

Gonchar has his name on the Stanley Cup, winning it with the Pens in 2009. He's been to the NHL All-Star Game five times. Gonchar has had 50 or more points in nine of the last ten seasons, only missing the mark in 2008-09, when he had 19P in 25GP due to injury. He's 25th in all-time scoring by a defenceman, only 63P out of the top 20 defencemen all-time. He is 20th in career goals by a defenceman, with 202 in his career.

Of Russian-born players, he's the fifth to play in at least 1,000 games, and the second Russian defenceman. He's ninth all-time in scoring among Russians. He's just barely behind Sergei Zubov for defencemen in those categories: Another 69GP and he'll have the most games played by a Russian defenceman, and if he can muster 83P before having to retire, he'll overtake Zubov for the all-time highest-scoring Russian defender.

Suffice to say, Gonchar's statistics have been impressive. Perhaps second only to his very impressive consistency, and--until recently--his ability to avoid missing significant time due to injury. With the remainder of this season plus two more on his current contract, Gonchar still has some time to cement an already strong case for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The best way to really make his case? Probably to lead the Senators to the first Stanley Cup in modern franchise history. How could they keep him out then?

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