Vegas Golden Knights star Phil Kessel has broken the National Hockey League (NHL) ‘ironman’ record after he played his 990th consecutive game on Tuesday.
In taking to the ice against the San Jose Sharks, Kessel surpassed the previous mark set by the Philadelphia Flyers’ Keith Yandle last season.
Kessel, 35, started his impressive streak on November 3, 2009, when he made his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He had started that season by missing 12 games as he recovered from shoulder surgery and had previously fought back from a cancer diagnosis when he was just 19 years old.
Not content with the ‘ironman’ title, Kessel celebrated his record-breaking achievement by scoring his 400th career goal as his team beat the Sharks 4-2.
“It’s a cool thing. It means I played a lot of games, right? It’s neat,” an understated Kessel told reporters when he initially tied the record on Monday. “I’ve been fortunate.”
He added: “I like to play, I enjoy going out there. I’ve been doing it a long time and it’s still fun to me.”
The American has not missed a game for almost 13 years, including 12 full seasons in the NFL.
It’s a career that has seen him play for the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Arizona Coyotes and, most recently, the Golden Knights.
Kessel was a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins, winning consecutive titles in 2016 and 2017.
Yandle, who set the previous record in January, has since retired from the sport but had a video message for Kessel.
“To play in even one NHL game is a remarkable achievement but to play in every game going back 13 years takes unbelievable talent to stay in the line-up day in and day out, tremendous determination to play through aches and pains, and a whole lot of luck,” he said.
Ten more and Kessel will become the first player to feature in 1000 consecutive games, but he’s certainly not getting carried away.
“There is obviously a lot of luck. There are some nights you could have missed throughout the time, but I ended up not,” he told reporters.