The NHL’s five current iron men, in honor of Glenn Hall’s famous streak

It was this day in 1962 that Glenn Hall’s record streak of starts by a goaltender ended at 502. And while there’s no netminder who can touch Hall’s iron man streak, five NHLers have built up some amazing runs of their own.
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Glenn Hall’s record for consecutive starts by a goaltender, a whopping 502, may be the lone, truly unbeatable record in the NHL’s history. 

Say what you will for Gretzky’s 50 goals in 39 games or Gretzky’s league-record 2,857 points or Gretzky’s…well, you get the idea. Most of the records that are considered unbeatable are held by Gretzky, but Hall’s iron man streak in goal is one for the ages. 

For seven consecutive seasons, from 1955-56 to 1961-62, Hall played every single game he was on the roster for, and he was named to one of the league’s end of season all-star teams in all but one of those seasons. He didn’t just have longevity and a body perfectly built for the rigors of night-in, night-out goaltending, he was also tremendous when he took the ice.

But Hall’s streak, like anything, came to an end on Nov. 10, 1962. After 502 starts, Hall missed his first game.

It’s an unbeatable mark in today’s game and one that would require robotic goaltenders or the best defensive scheme of all-time and an incredibly underworked and durable netminder to pull off. It would be the equivalent of six full seasons of work, plus another 11 games to start the seventh season, to surpass. If Martin Brodeur wasn’t going to do that in his heyday, it seems certain no one will.

In honor of Hall’s achievement, and in remembrance of the streak, here are the NHL’s five current iron men. And no, you won’t be finding any goaltenders on the list.

5. Karl Alzner, Washington Capitals — 470 games

Streak started: Oct. 8, 2010

Technically, Alzner has only ever missed one game in his career due to injury, but demotions to the AHL saw him in and out of the Capitals’ lineup up until the start of the 2010 season. Since then, though, he hasn’t missed a single outing. Not for an injury, not for a suspension, not even as a scratch as he got his feet wet in his first full year as an NHL defenseman.

He’s well on his way to becoming one of the few players who have played 500-straight games in the NHL, too. Only 23 players in league history have done it, and if Alzner can stay healthy until at least the midway point of the campaign, he’ll join the few players in league history who’ve made it halfway to the millennium mark without missing an outing.

4. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins — 541 games

Streak started: Nov. 3, 2009

For all the talk about Kessel maybe not looking the most in-shape or being the most athletics, he’s been incredibly durable. If nothing else, the Maple Leafs knew they could always count on Kessel in the lineup. In fact, his last absence came 12 games into Toronto career, and that was the result of an off-season shoulder surgery.

Kessel’s streak was in jeopardy to start this season, however. He had been nursing a hand injury for much of the past campaign and underwent surgery in the off-season, which resulted in some questions about his ability to get back into the lineup for the beginning of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup defense. He was there on Day One, though, and he’s steadily moving up the list of the league’s top iron men. 

3. Keith Yandle, Florida Panthers — 555 games

Streak started: October 3, 2009

There’s probably some debate about this one, but the fact is that Yandle was demoted at the tail end of the 2008-09 season and finished his campaign playing in the AHL. Due to that, he missed some NHL outings and his streak didn’t really get the chance to start until the beginning of the 2009-10 campaign.

Yandle’s streak also comes with another interesting note. He’s tied with the No. 2 iron man on this list, yet his streak started months after. 

How is that possible? 

Well, beyond playing every single game since the start of the 2009-10 campaign, Yandle also managed to be one of the rare modern day players to suit up in more than 82 games in a season. He skated in 84 games 2014-15 thanks to the trade that sent him to the New York Rangers.

2. Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks — 555 games

Streak started: April 9, 2009

When people think about Marleau, they think about the face of the Sharks during their leanest years, the natural goal scoring ability he possesses and probably his eyebrows. What might not cross everyone’s mind, though, is that Marleau has missed a mere 20 games in a career that has spanned more than 1,400 games. That’s incredible.

The longest consistent absence of Marleau’s career was a five-game span on the shelf with a lower-body injury in 2009, and that’s it. Not since then has he missed a minute of action, and that’s incredible given that he’s not exactly a young pup anymore. 

At 37, he won’t be able to chase down all-time iron man Doug Jarvis, who played 964 games to start his career, but there’s a good chance Marleau play 600-straight games before his career is through.

1. Andrew Cogliano, Anaheim Ducks — 718 games

Streak started: Oct. 4, 2007

Cogliano has never missed a game in his career. From the moment he made the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers until the end of the Ducks’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night, Cogliano has been in the lineup for every single game. He has never been a healthy scratch, never been unable to go because of a bump or a bruise and there hasn’t even been a rogue illness that has been able to snap Cogliano’s streak.

That’s all kinds of incredible, and Cogliano already has himself a small piece of history as only the sixth player in league history to suit up for 700 consecutive games. Beyond that, he holds the second-longest streak for consecutive games player from the start of a career, behind Doug Jarvis.

Right now, Cogliano sits behind only Jay Bouwmeester (737), Craig Ramsay (776), Steve Larmer (884), Garry Unger (914) and Jarvis (964). It’s going to take him another three full seasons — exactly, as he’d tie Jarvis 14 games into the third year — for Cogliano to catch up. 

Here’s hoping he stays healthy, because it’s a milestone we’d love to see.

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