Barring a freakish accident on his way to the Verizon Center tonight, Capitals defenseman John Erskine will play in his 400th NHL game when the Caps take on the team that drafted him, the Dallas Stars.
I probably should have played 400 a long time ago, Erskine said. Ive been through a lot of injuries and healthy scratches.
True enough. Erskine has never played more than the 73 games he logged for the Capitals last season and prior to that he had never played in more than 60 games in a given season.
Yet here is, at the age of 31, still banging away in the crease and dropping the gloves when needed.
Hes a great guy to have back there, said teammate Jeff Schultz. He plays some tough minutes.
Erskine said hell always have a soft spot for the Stars, who selected him in the second round (39th overall) of the 1998 draft. When he broke into the NHL in 2001, he was helped along by guys like Mike Modano, Derian Hatcher, Pierre Turgeon and Richard Matvichuk.
When I played there the majority of the team was older and they took me under their wings and helped me out, Erskine said. It went a long way.
Capitals center Jeff Halpern also spent some time in Dallas, signing with the Stars as a free agent in 2006 after six seasons with the Capitals. Halpern was involved in the 2008 trade that sent Brad Richards to the Stars and Halpern to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Its a great city and I enjoyed playing there, Halpern said. I was pretty broken up about getting traded from there. They were good guys on that team.