New York Islanders captain John Tavares is closing in on a mark very few NHLers have ever reached: skating with a 500th different linemate in his career.
Tavares, 26, is sitting on 499 all time linemates right now, and the next time Islanders coach Jack Capuano shuffles his lines and puts a new player next to his top center, Tavares will achieve the rarely-seen 500 winger milestone in only 520-plus career games.
While Tavares admits he hasn’t thought a lot about the parade of players that have lined up next to him over the last seven years, he is cognizant of his unique place in NHL history and is quick to heap praise on the many, many, many, many teammates that have played with him.
“For sure, it’s obviously an honor to play with all of those guys,” he said. “I’ve obviously been fortunate to play in the NHL, and to play with 499 great players. Each and every one of them was very special to me, for sure, whether they were a sniper or a grinder or a playmaker or a shooter or a veteran or a rookie or a longtime friend or a journeyman I never heard from again.
“I’ve learned a lot from the 499 linemates I’ve had in my career and look forward to 500 more.”
Just a sampling of those who have taken at least one shift with the Islanders captain in a game include Josh Bailey, Nikolay Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, Cal Clutterbuck, newcomers Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd, and rookie Anthony Beauvillier, as well as former Islanders Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, P.A. Parenteau, Brad Boyes, Thomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen, Doug Weight, Blake Comeau, Micheal Haley, Matt Martin, Tyler Kennedy, Jeremy Colliton, Trent Hunter, Rob Schremp, Jon Sim, Sean Bergenheim, and Jeff Tambellini, plus Islanders mascot Sparky the Dragon, color analyst Butch Goring, a cardboard standee of Matt Martin, a Nassau Coliseum pretzel vendor, two Islanders Ice Girls, Santa Claus, actor Kevin Connolly, a mop sticking out of a bucket, and a fan who won a Chuck-a-Puck contest in 2009.
Tavares’ trajectory really took off starting in 2014, and he has lined up with over 450 different linemates since that season. Capuano said he didn’t realize Tavares had had that many wingers in his career because he was more concerned about the rest of the team.
“Johnny’s our captain and we go where he goes,” Capuano said. “I don’t worry about Johnny’s line because he can carry one by himself. If we have to start pulling in people off the street to play with Johnny so we can find some offense from other lines, then that’s what we’ll do”
The NHL record for linemates by a single player for one franchise is 666, set by Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux, who had 512 different linemates between 1985 and 1990. Journeyman Mike Sillinger had 894 different linemates while playing for 12 separate franchises in his career and is known as the “Wayne Gretzky of Linemates.”
This is obviously fake, or at least, highly, highly exaggerated. Thanks to BehindTheNet.ca for helping make the players list somewhat true.