Vegas Golden Knights winger Phil Kessel has set a new record for consecutive regular-season games played without injury or being healthy scratched, also known as the Ironman streak.
Kessel set the record on Tuesday night after playing his first shift against the San Jose Sharks, making it his 990th straight game. This surpasses Keith Yandle’s record of 989, which Kessel tied on Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yandle had set the record on Jan. 25 during the 2021-22 season, passing Doug Jarvis’ previous record of 964 games.
Kessel’s streak has been in the works since Nov. 3, 2009, when he played his first game with the Maple Leafs after he was dealt to them from the Boston Bruins. He had missed the first month of the season after recovering from shoulder surgery, and after that he began his streak. He’s played 446 games with the Leafs, 328 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, 208 with the Arizona Coyotes and now eight with the Golden Knights on route to setting the new record.
Kessel hasn’t just made a career out of staying healthy, though. He’s also been a prolific scorer throughout his career, amassing a total of 399 goals, 559 assists and 958 points in 1,211 career NHL games heading into Tuesday’s match against the Sharks. He had a stretch of 30-goal seasons in five of six seasons from 2008-09 to 2013-14, with the lone season being the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season during which he scored 20 goals in 48 games for a pace of 34. He also had a career year with the Penguins in 2017-18, where he scored 34 goals, 58 assists and 92 points in 82 games.
Kessel’s journey to this record is an interesting one, especially as a survivor of testicular cancer, which he was diagnosed with in December 2006, and was announced cancer-free shortly after. He’s been criticized for appearing out of shape by certain members of the media, but clearly what he’s doing has worked, since he has now gone through the longest stretch of good health in NHL history.