Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/18/11 at 11:01 AM ET
from Ben Raby at the Montreal Gazette,
The 37-year-old skated nearly 20 minutes in the Capitals’ 2-1 win over Ottawa, suiting up for the 1,315th time in his NHL career and passing countryman Bobby Holik for the most games played by an eastern European.
“When you grow up in Czech Republic as a kid, especially in a communist republic, you don’t really know what’s going on,” Hamrlik said. “When I came here I was 18 years old, still young and just growing up. The last couple of years it just hit me how many games and how many years I’ve played, and how lucky I am.”
Hamrlik has stayed relatively healthy throughout his career, appearing in at least 70 games in all but one season since 1995. That durability has allowed him to develop into arguably the best Czech defenceman of all-time. His 153 goals and 624 points are both national bests for a defenceman.
“There haven’t been that many Czech defencemen with long NHL careers, so he’s broken the mould as one of the first ones to really establish himself as an important part of the teams he’s played on,” said Holik, a teammate with Hamrlik on the gold-medal winning Czech Republic team at the 1998 Olympics.
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