Sami Salo hits 700, but how many might be have played?

On Oct. 22 against the Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canuck defenceman Sami Salo played in his 700th NHL game.
That’s a notable achievement for someone who was drafted almost as an afterthought, in the ninth round (239th overall) by the Ottawa Senators in 1996.

VANCOUVER — On Oct. 22 against the Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canuck defenceman Sami Salo played in his 700th NHL game.
That’s a notable achievement for someone who was drafted almost as an afterthought, in the ninth round (239th overall) by the Ottawa Senators in 1996.
That’s the same draft – the first under then-general manager Pierre Gauthier – in which Chris Phillips was selected No. 1 overall.
The sad part is that Salo, now 37, would have played as many as his former Ottawa teammate except for the almost incredible number of injuries he’s had during his career, estimated to be around 40.
Phillips, who played his 966th on Sunday against the Canucks, will hit 1,000 this year. Salo may not have time left in his career to hit 1,000.
While Salo’s never played a full NHL season – the most games he’s played in one year has been 79 in 2002-03 – last season might have been the most frustrating.
In July, 2010, in a freak accident while playing floorball at home in Finland, he tore an Achilles tendon. Surgery, followed by a long recovery period, forced him to miss the first four months of the 2010-11 season. He ended up playing only 27 games.
So all things considered, to have been able to play 700 games despite all those injuries is something of a milestone.
“Yeah, for sure, especially after last year,” he said on Sunday morning.
“It was a real tough one, because there was no telling if I was even going to be able to play hockey.
“But after getting through that, it gives you a little confidence, because all the hard work you’ve done has helped you play those 700 games.”
Salo’s been a Canuck for so long – since the 2002-03 season and 514 games – it’s almost hard to remember that he played 195 for the Senators.
But he still remembers his first game, on Oct. 10, 1998, against the Colorado Avalanche at the
McNichols Sports Arena.
“I still have a lot of good memories of playing in Ottawa, really nice memories, good times,” he said.
Last summer, Salo signed a one-year contract worth $2 million. Those are the kind of short-term deals he’ll likely be seeing at this stage of his career.
But he hasn’t yet had the thought of retirement enter his head.
“I’m just kind of taking it day-by-day,” he said.
“I feel really good, and probably one reason is that I had a really good summer, was able to train properly and didn’t have to deal with any injuries.
“So I was able to relax and and work out.
“But I haven’t really looked that far ahead.
“There are a lot of young players coming into the league every year, and teams are trying to get younger, but if you’re able to play at your top level, it gives you another year or two.
“I feel really good so hopefully I can manage a few more years.”

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