Whether he’s representing his country, or his big league club, over the course of 1,000 career NHL games, Eric Staal’s list of accomplishments has become one that isn’t easily rattled off.
He hits the milestone Sunday, March 19 with the Minnesota Wild on the road at MTS Centre visiting the Winnipeg Jets.
Staal, the eldest of four hockey-playing brothers, has earned much of the hardware many young Canadians only dream of. A member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club – the Thunder Bay native won Olympic gold in 2010 and a World Championship in 2007 with Canada, shortly after helping the Carolina Hurricanes win their first Stanley Cup in 2006.
Selected second overall at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, it all began for Staal as a 19-year-old rookie with Carolina - the club he’d eventually captain.
He debuted the very next season, finishing the rookie campaign with 31 points. The first of the incredibly rich 2003 Draft Class to reach the 1,000-game milestone, Staal put aside any worries of a sophomore slump in 2005-06 by posting career highs across the board going 45-55—100. His standout play continued on the ‘Canes’ quest for the Cup that spring, posting 9-19—28 in the playoffs along the way to eventually hoisting the most coveted trophy in the NHL.
This was only the beginning of many memorable moments for Staal, who went on to represent the Hurricanes four times as an NHL All-Star (2007, 2008, 2009, & 2011), and was even named the MVP in 2008.
The next year, Eric put up an even ten points to help guide Team Canada to gold, alongside his brother Jordan, at the 2007 World Championship in Russia. Less than three years later, shortly after being named captain of the Hurricanes, Staal tallied 6 points at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he punched his ticket to the Triple Gold Club.
Staal had another special moment with Carolina, though it didn’t earn him any accolades. On April 25, 2013, Eric got to start an NHL game alongside brothers Jordan and Jared. Eric was traded three seasons later to the New York Rangers, where he had the opportunity to play on professional ice on the same side as the only other brother he hadn’t yet been able to call a teammate - Marc.
On the first day of free agency, he signed a three-year contract as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild. He hit the 20-goal mark on March 20, and he has been an important leader for the Wild as they compete for the top spot in the Western Conference.