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Alex Goligoski feels lucky to hit 1,000-game milestone

The Wild defenseman did what not a lot of hockey players can do.

Vancouver Canucks v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

Alex Goligoski has spent most of his career under the radar, but on Thursday, he was able to hit a milestone that not many players have ever done.

Playing just one game in the NHL seems tough, but the 37-year-old defenseman has now played 1,000 games in the top hockey league in the world and feels very fortunate that he was able to do so, especially considering some of his thoughts halfway to this mark.

“When I got to 500, I was like ‘I can’t believe people play 1,000, that’s crazy.’ And here we are.” Goligoski said prior to Thursday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. “It’s cool. Not a lot of people get to do it, so I feel very lucky.”

Among the thousands and thousands of players that have played in the NHL since its inception in 1917, Goligoski is just the 371st player to hit the 1,000-game mark. An incredible achievement.

But why was he able to go for so long? He credits his motivation, drive, and never really feeling like he is guaranteed anything in this league.

“For so long, you’re just coming here every day, like ‘I got to get there, I got to stay here.’ I think I’ve always had that feeling a little bit, which I think is good, it keeps you motivated. I don’t think I’ve ever felt comfortable or anything. It’s just about trying to keep improving, keep working hard and see how long we can go.”

And to make it even more special, the Grand Rapids, Minn. native got to do it with his hometown team.

“I don’t know how many people have been able to do that,” Goligoski said about hitting the milestone with the Minnesota Wild. “Really cool how everything has happened, just feeling very fortunate.”

Goligoski will have more opportunity down the road to increase that number and pass some big-time players like Shea Weber, Tomas Holmstrom, and local legend Marian Gaborik in the games played list this season. But for now, with defenseman Jon Merrill making his return — not to put a damper on the celebration — it seems like he might be the odd man out of the blue line and will serve the seventh defenseman spot for the time being, with everyone healthy.

We will have to see what head coach Dean Evason decides, but the 1,001-game milestone awaits him and can potentially be hit Saturday afternoon against the Boston Bruins. Goligoski is under contract for another year after this one, so there is a mountain of time to increase that number.