First Blackhawk to 1000 - Eric Nesterenko

June 1, 2023  (7:53 PM)

This is elite company when you look at the numbers. Since the inception of the NHL in 1917, over 7600 players have taken the ice. 35 players have played over 1000 games for just one team, nine of which are still active players. Many of these players are now in the Hall of Fame, for which it seems to be manifest destiny that Toews will end up in the HOF and have his jersey in the rafters.

Let's look back at the first Blackhawk to reach the 1000 game plateau, Eric Nesterenko. Born October 31, 1933, in Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada, Nesterenko began his NHL Career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1951 and would play 206 games in five seasons before being sent to the Chicago Blackhawks. He would play the next 1013 games of his career wearing the Indian head.
Nesterenko's punishing play in the corners earned him the nickname «Elbows». Not one to be afraid of dishing out the hits, Nesterenko finished in the top 10 in penalty minutes five times, but was not known for taking bad penalties. He was not considered an elite goalscorer at the time, but his 495 points are not to be frowned upon. It was Nesterenko's penalty killing that really stood out. 22 of his 25 short-handed goals came while on the Hawks. He would play an integral part in helping the Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961.
Always considered a great teammate, Nesterenko was a bit of a loner and was often seen in practice skating laps by himself with a stopwatch in hand, always trying to go faster. Nesterenko was a very outspoken person, a trait that got his rights sold to Chicago in 1954 after questioning the Toronto Maple Leafs direction and game play.
Nesterenko retired from the NHL following the 1971-72 season after a 21-year career. He would make a quick stop with the Chicago Cougars in the WHL and then travel to Switzerland where he played a final year and then perfected his skiing skills.
In 1986 Nesterenko would star as Rob Lowe's father in the hockey movie, Youngblood. At 88 years old, Nesterenko still considers himself a ski bum.
While he did not have a Hall of Fame career, Nesterenko was a talented player and a fan favorite. His name is often brought up frequently when discussing favorite past players, and his longevity is admirable considering the physical player he was. And he was the very first Blackhawk to cross the 1000 games played mark.
Let's look at Eric Nesterenko by the numbers:
Regular Season: Playoffs:
Games Played
1219 (1013 with Hawks) 115
277 13
288 22
495 35
Penalty Minutes
1275 127
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