When John Tavares plays tonight at home in Toronto, he’ll be skating in his 1,000 NHL game. And before they get to the game, he’ll get a big chunk of silver. The Leafs are rich, though, they should give him solid gold... well, about that. This is the NHL, so this stuff is actually in the CBA:

38.1 Article 50.2(a) provides that certain “Traditional Hockey Practices” are not prohibited and includes Milestone Gifts as one such “Traditional Hockey Practice,” provided such Milestone Gift does not exceed $25,000 (U.S.).

38.2 Criteria for Milestone Gifts.

(a) A “Milestone Gift” shall be any award presented to a Player for one or more of the following accomplishments:

(i) For Forwards:

(A) One thousand (1,000) games played;
(B) Four hundred (400) goals scored;
(C) Six hundred (600) assists; or
(D) One thousand (1,000) points.

(ii) For Defensemen:

(A) One thousand (1,000) games played;
(B) One-hundred and fifty (150) goals scored;
(C) Five hundred (500) assists; or
(D) Six hundred (600) points.

(iii) For Goaltenders:

(A) Five hundred (500) games played;
(B) Three hundred (300) wins; or
(C) Forty (40) shutouts.

(b) In all cases, a Milestone Gift must be presented to a Player in a pre-game, on-ice ceremony that takes place after the warm-ups and prior to the beginning of the game.

There’s also a weasel clause that basically allows them to think up any other milestone and go for it if the league approves.

Why all these rules? Because if you could give a participation trophy in solid gold once a week, that would be cap circumvention.

Besides, 1,000 games is a genuine milestone. There’s... you know, I have no idea how many, but a hell of a lot of players in the NHL since it’s inception in 1917, and the total players with 1,000 games, per Quant Hockey, is 377. John Tavares will become number 378, and he’ll be the youngest guy on the list when he does it, the only one born in the 1990s. Is he the youngest ever at the time he plays in 1,000? Likely not, and I leave that as an exercise for someone with a database they can easily access to answer.

Jamie Benn is joining the club when his bye week is up to become number 379.

Of active players in the NHL, Tavares is 37th on the games played list, which is a who’s who of players born in the eighties led by Eric Staal. Three active Maple Leafs will be on this list once Tavares joins them, a lesson considering the sheer number of times people have (wrongly) said the NHL is “younger than ever”.

Of course, all three of the Leafs thousand-games players were on other teams for a lot of years. When it comes to active Leafs, the leader in games played as a Maple Leaf is obvious: Morgan Rielly at 659 games. It’s going to be someone special who breaks George Armstrong’s record of 1,188 someday. Maybe Rielly himself, maybe he’ll have some familiar company on that list someday.

Behind Rielly are three guys who’ve never played anywhere else who seem so young and are already pushing at the halfway mark on the longevity race:

  • William Nylander at 489
  • Mitch Marner at 477
  • Auston Matthews at 454/

John Tavares comes in at fifth with 330 games as a Maple Leaf. Almost one third of his total.

Okay, so silver is running at $760 per kilo which means, that stick can be about 30 kilos at most...

Thanks for being a Maple Leaf, John Tavares. That was a really nice bottle of sparkling wine I popped that summer day you signed the contract. Prosecco in the back yard in the sunshine is how I’ll always think of Tavares. (Sorry it was Italian, but there might have been some Vinho Verde later.)