Tonight, Brent Seabrook hits another milestone in his already Hall of Fame-worthy career. The Tsawwassen, British Columbia native will be on the ice tonight for his 1000th regular season game, all with the Blackhawks.
Seabrook was drafted 14th overall by Chicago in the 2003 NHL Draft. After spending two seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, he played three games with the Norfolk Admirals, then the AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks. He made his NHL debut with Chicago during the 2005-2006 season, posting 32 points (5 goals, 27 assists) in his rookie campaign. He began that season on a pairing with Duncan Keith.
Thirteen seasons, 123 playoff appearances, three Stanley Cup rings, two Olympic gold medals, and an “A” on his sweater later, Seabrook has left an indelible mark in hockey history and in Chicago sports history.
Who can forget his second game ever, scoring four assists in a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks? Or the Calgary game, when he completed the most improbable of comebacks, scoring the OT winner in a 6-5 win over the Flames, after being down 5-0?
Who can forget how he calmed Jonathan Toews in down in the penalty box during the Western Conference Finals against the Detroit Red Wings? Or how he eliminated them in Game 7 in overtime?
Who can forget how he, along with Duncan Keith, withstood all the punishment the Anaheim Ducks gave them during the WCF in 2015, and then stating that they withstood it all because the Blackhawks staff always had “fruit and crap” in the dressing room?
The fact that Seabrook does not have a lot of memorable moments is really because of Seabrook himself. He may not have the flash that comes with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, or the awe that Duncan Keith’s “freak of nature” physique demands. But when he creates memories, they are enduring. Seabrook is the calm beneath the storm. He epitomizes durability. He embodies reliability.
Case in point. Seabrook missed 13 games his rookie season due to a sprained ankle. In the next 12 seasons, he would only miss 15 games. This season, he only missed one game, a healthy scratch versus the Ottawa Senators. During the 2014-2015 season, he played all 82 games and all 23 playoff games Chicago played, logging an average of 26 minutes per game in a top 4 pairing role.
Seabrook may have had a rougher start of the season than most of the others that make up the so-called “core” of this team. But he has quietly put up a solid, net-positive season. He has positive possession numbers and he has put up three goals his last eight games. The NHL may be getting younger and faster, but his experience and high hockey IQ have proven effective in combating all that youth and speed.
The fact that the 1000-game milestone comes this particular season may be a little bittersweet, considering that for the past nine seasons, Seabrook would by now be deep in preparation for the playoffs. But what he has achieved in his first 13 seasons with the NHL is undeniable, and it demands respect. Regardless of what this year has become, and regardless of what the next seasons will bring, he has already left a legacy that will stand the test of time.