NY Islanders Cal Clutterbuck accomplished feat in finale not seen since Chris Pronger

Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders
Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

In a season of milestones for New York Islanders veteran forward Cal Clutterbuck, the one he achieved last night may have been the most rewarding and surprising accomplishment.

By skating in the regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Clutterbuck became the first player since Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Pronger in 2008-09 to play all 82 regular season games in a season after playing his 1,000th career NHL game. Prior to this season, the most games the 36-year-old had played in a year was 78 back in 2008-09 with the Minnesota Wild. His highest number of games with the Islanders was 77, reached during the 2015-16 season.

Clutterbuck joined Brock Nelson, Kyle Palmieri, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau as this season's "Iron Men," who played in every regular season game. Captain Anders Lee had played in the previous 81 before last night's 5-4 win but was kept out for personal reasons.

Earlier this season, Clutterbuck was celebrated for playing his 1,000th career game and later became the first player in NHL history to record 4,000 hits. Playing in 82 games, much like those aforementioned stats, is especially impressive given the the physical game that Clutterbuck plays each and evert night as part of the Islanders fourth line.

“He plays physical and hard, and he’s done that for the entirety of his career,” longtime linemate Casey Cizikas said back in November. “It’s definitely an accomplishment and something he should be extremely proud of.”

Two years ago, his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that ended his year at the trade deadline. On the same day that was reported, GM Lou Lamoriello announced that the team had signed Clutterbuck to a two-year extension. After playing in just 49 games last year, questions about the winger's durability were prevalent, and some even wondered if he pondered retiring a year early, given all the bangs and bruises accumulated throughout his 17-year career.

As an unrestricted free agent after the season, Clutterbuck's future remains very much uncertain, but this year he proved that he can remain on the ice as a consistent contributor, much as he has throughout his long, and now decorated career.

Clutterbuck finished the year with seven goals and 12 assists.