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NHL Career Iron Men

Updated on August 22, 2008

Gordie Howe

Mark Messier

Ron Francis


Think about this. Gordie Howe played in more NHL games than anyone, with 1767. That's almost 2000 games in a sport that requires strength, stamina and skating ability, as well as being able to absorb punishing hits. No offense to Cal Ripken, Jr., but this is a little more impressive. Here is a list of the NHL's all-time leaders in games played:

Gordie Howe (1767)-Gordie Howe turned 80 in 2008, and if you expect him to lace up the skates and go back out there, I'm right there with you. But lines must be drawn somewhere. Still, Howe leads the NHL with 1767 career games, and played from 1946 to 1971, and then again in 1979-80 at the age of 51. Howe was also a prolific scorer, with 801 career goals and 1049 assists. His best season was 1968-69 with Detroit, when Howe scored 44 goals with 59 assists for a career best 103 points.

Mark Messier (1756)-Mark Messier began his career with those great Edmonton Oilers teams of the ‘80's, and played up until 2003-04 with the New York Rangers, ranking second in NHL history with 1756 games played. Messier was Wayne Gretzky's line mate for years, but he was a great scorer in his own right with 694 career goals. Messier's best season was 1989-90 with Edmonton, when he scored 45 goals with 84 assists, for 129 points.

Ron Francis (1731)-Journeyman center Ron Francis played in the NHL from 1981 to 2004, a total of 1731 games, which ranks him third in league history. Francis amassed 549 goals with 1249 assists, and his best season was 1995-96 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, when Francis scored 27 goals and had career highs in assists (92) and points (119).

Dave Andreychuk (1639)-Left wing Dave Andreychuk played for several teams over the course of his long career, which spanned 25 years and 1639 games, the latter ranking him fourth in NHL history. Andreychuk's best season was 1993-94 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, when he scored 53 goals with 46 assists for 99 total points.

Scott Stevens (1635)-Defenseman Scott Stevens was a big bruiser of a player, partially explaining his longevity in the NHL, which was 1635 games, fifth best in NHL's history.

Stevens played for the Capitals and Devils from 1982 to 2004, and his best season was 1993-94 with New Jersey, when he had 78 points (18 goals and 60 assists).

Chris Chelios (1616)-Defenseman Chris Chelios played on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and then proceeded to play in the NHL until, well, now. In 2008, Chelios is still playing at the age of 46 and helped the Red Wings win a Stanley Cup in 2007-08. Chelios ranks sixth in league history with 1616 games and counting. Chelios matched a career best of 73 points (15 goals and 58 assists) twice, once with Montreal in 1988-89 and once with Chicago in 1992-93.

Larry Murphy (1615)-Defenseman Larry Murphy played in the NHL for several teams from 1980 to 2002, and ranks seventh in NHL history with 1615 games played. Murphy's best season was 1992-93 with Pittsburgh, when he scored 22 goals with 63 assists for a career-high 85 points.

Raymond Bourque (1612)-Ray Bourque played for the Boston Bruins from 1979 to 2000, and then finished his career in 2000-01 with Colorado at the age of 40. Bourque played in 1612 games, which ranks him eighth in league history. He had 410 goals and 1169 assists, and his best season was 1983-84, when he scored a career- high 31 goals with 65 assists for 96 total points.

Alex Delvecchio (1549)-Forward Alex Delvecchio played his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings, from 1950-1974, retiring at the age of 41. Delvecchio played in 1549 games in all, ranking him ninth on the all-time NHL list. Delvecchio's best season was 1968-69, when he scored 25 goals with 58 assists for a career best 83 points.

John Bucyk (1540)-Left wing John Bucyk played most of his career in Boston after beginning it in Detroit. In all, Bucyk played in 1540 games between 1955 and 1978, which ranks him tenth in NHL history. Bucyk's best season was 1970-71, when he had career highs in goals (51), assists (65), and total points (116).


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      rwd 6 years ago

      whats amazing about Howe's record is that most of his seasons were 70 games per season whereas Messier and all the more recent players have played 80-84 games/season. If you also add the games Howe played in the WHA (7 seasons @ 76 games/season) no one else is even remotely close to Howe.