WINNIPEG – Thunder Bay’s Eric Staal is now a member of the NHL’s 1,000-games played club.
Staal, 32, hit the milestone on Sunday in Winnipeg, held off the score sheet in a 5-4 loss to the Jets, in his first season with the Minnesota Wild.
“It feels like the blink of an eye,” Staal told Wild.com’s Dan Myers before his historic game.
“Time just kind of marches on. Most people can say the same thing, but in hockey life, it just seems to go even faster.”
Drafted in the first round, third overall in 2003 by the Carolina Hurricanes, the forward had his best years in Raleigh, where he remained until the 2016 trade deadline when he was traded to the New York Rangers.
Staal, the oldest of four hockey-playing brothers, cracked the century mark in points in 2005-06, the season he led the Hurricanes to their one and only Stanley Cup win.
In 13 NHL seasons Staal has 349 goals and 835 points, including 24 goals and 54 points in 71 games with the Wild in 2016-17. He became the 307th player to hit the 1,000-game mark.
"It's an accomplishment that means a lot to me, because I love being on the ice, I love being in games and being a part of the team game," Staal told Wild.com. "Hopefully, there's many more games to come."