Maple Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey marks milestone 1,000th NHL game
Former Maple Leafs great Darryl Sittler, right, presents Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey with a silver hockey stick to commemorate his 1000th NHL hockey game ahead of NHL hockey action between the Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars in Toronto on Thursday, November 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, November 1, 2018 8:42PM EDT
TORONTO -- Maple Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey marked his 1,000th NHL game Thursday night.
The 37-year-old from Bolton, Conn., became the 324th player in NHL history to reach the milestone and the 23rd player to do so in a Leafs uniform.
The Leafs and the NHL honoured Hainsey before Thursday's game against the visiting Dallas Stars while his wife and three kids watched on the ice at Scotiabank Arena.
After a video tribute, Leaf assistant captains John Tavares, Patrick Marleau and Morgan Rielly (his defence partner) presented the family with flowers and gifts. The NHL offered up a Tiffany crystal while Leafs icon Darryl Sittler, who played 1,096 regular-season games, presented Hainsey with the silver stick that all 1,000-game veterans get.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment donated $10,00 to the SickKids Foundation in Hainsey's name.
Hainsey's NHL career dates back to 2002-03 when he made 21 appearances for the Canadiens, who had drafted him in the first round -- 13th overall -- in 2000.
He went on to play for Columbus, Atlanta, Winnipeg, Carolina and Pittsburgh before signing a two-year deal with the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2017, as an unrestricted free agent.
It wasn't until 2017 with Pittsburgh -- 907 games into his career -- that his NHL journey finally took him to the the playoffs. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recognized those years of service, handing the Stanley Cup to then 36-year-old Hainsey first during the post-game celebrations in Nashville.
"I'm sure he was pretty happy to lift it and I was certainly happy to pass it along to him," Crosby said that night.
"Certainly an honour and certainly a moment I won't forget," Hainsey said at the time.
Carolina had traded Hainsey to Pittsburgh that February.
Prior to entering the NHL, he spent two years in the U.S. national team development program and a year at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Buffalo's Jason Pominville also reached the 1,000 game milestone Thursday in the Sabres' game against Ottawa.
Dallas forward Jason Spezza played his 1,000th game on Tuesday in Montreal.