Playing 1,000 games in the NHL is an incredible accomplishment for any player, but for someone who plays the style of Cal Clutterbuck, it's got to be that much sweeter. Tomorrow night, Clutterbuck will be honored for his longevity as the NY Islanders take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
Drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2006, Clutterbuck played six seasons in the twin cities before being traded to the Islanders in exchange for Nino Neidereitter. It was a move scrutinized by Islanders fans at the time, but Clutterbuck has carved out quite the career for himself on Long Island.
A third of what Don Cherry once claimed to be "the best fourth line in hockey" alongside Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, Clutterbuck has become the NHL all-time hits leader with 3,795 and counting.
"More than anything, I think it kind of takes more mental strength than physical, said Clutterbuck following Monday's practice. "Sometimes the injuries can take a toll on you mentally. Sometimes, the seasons can be long. They don't always go the way you want them to. When you spend 18 years in pro sports and grow up in junior leagues in the early 2000s without enduring your share of adversity. So what doesn't kill you makes you stronger is the mantra, and you just learn how to keep on keeping on."
The style of play Clutterbuck brings to the arena every night takes a toll on the body after a while, as he's been finding it tougher to stay on the ice the last two seasons, playing 59 and 49 games, respectively. But when he is on the ice, he brings that fierce, never-back-down attitude every night.
Clutterbuck will be the second Islander player to reach the 1,000 games milestone in as many years, following Josh Bailey, who was honored early last season. Former teammate and current captain of the Buffalo Sabres, Kyle Okposo, just reached quadrupled digits last week.