Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau can hardly fathom what Luke Schenn has put his body through.
“That’s way more hits than I ever wanted to hit – or take,” Boudreau told reporters postgame after the Canucks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in overtime.
Midway through the third period, Schenn flattened his former partner on defence in Arizona, Jakob Chychrun.
With that hit, Schenn officially became the NHL’s all-time hits leader among defencemen.
He’s recorded 2,947 hits throughout his 15-year NHL career.
“I’m just so proud of him as a person,” Boudreau said post-game.
“He’s a guy every teammate relies on. He plays with pain most nights but he never complains and he just comes out and does his job.”
Schenn later reflected on his record-setting night.
“It feels good. It’s not really something that you set out to do coming into the league,” he told reporters postgame.
“I think the cool thing is, not necessarily the number but it’s just, you know, the guys at the top of that list are honest guys. I played against a lot of them and I recognize when they’re on the ice and it’s usually a hard night, a hard shift.
“To be recognized with those guys, it’s an honour. Brooks Orpik, I looked up to him in a lot of ways. Played a lot against him and he’s a warrior out there. He was huge in the playoffs and won a couple of Cups.”
Orpik was the previous all-time leader for hits among defencemen, registering 2,946 hits in 1,035 NHL games.
Schenn set the record in just 888 NHL games.
After the record was announced, Schenn was incredibly grateful for the ovation he received.
“For the crowd to get on their feet and give me a little bit of an ovation, it’s more than you could ever ask for.”
As the Canucks game went into a TV timeout in the third period, the crowd erupted in a chant yelling “Luke, Luke, Luke…”
“I’m really appreciative of the fanbase here. I absolutely love playing in Vancouver and the fans are awesome to us every night. I feel really grateful for it.”
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Canucks’ Schenn aging like fine wine
It’s almost hard to believe that Schenn is playing the best hockey of his career.
He’s the oldest Canuck on the team at 33 years old, and he’s currently in his 15th NHL season.
“I don’t really care about age, that’s my mindset,” Schenn told Daily Hive after the game.
“Obviously a lot of guys seem to fall off, into their thirties especially, but my mindset is that I want to get better with age and that’s what I’m focused on.
“There are some guys you see getting better in their thirties and that’s the group that I’d rather be associated with than the guys that drop off.”
JT Miller also commented on Schenn’s impressive record when talking to reporters postgame.
“I remember when I was a rookie, he was a guy that never let me off the hook. I knew that he was a physical man.
“For him to bring it for this many years and to continually do it every single night – I mean he’s got double the next guy in hits on this team – it’s an unbelievable feat.
“He’s getting up to 3000. it’s a pretty special number. I’m happy for him and so are guys on our squad.”
"Boys, let's build on this."
All-time leader in hits gets the belt. pic.twitter.com/cINOrd1yyI
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 4, 2022
How legit is Schenn’s hit record?
A few fans may have scratched their heads when it was announced that Schenn officially set the NHL record for hits by a defenceman.
The NHL has been in existence for more than 100 years. Even in just the last 30 years, the league has seen bludgeoning bruisers such as Scott Stevens and Derian Hatcher patrol bluelines.
Well, the NHL only didn’t officially start recording hits until the 2007-08 season.
Not only that, but there doesn’t seem to be a common standard for how hits are recorded around the NHL.
“It’s hard to decipher sometimes,” Schenn admitted postgame. “You think maybe it’s a hit and then it’s uncounted for.
“It’s different in every building too, honestly. Some buildings, they’re a little more stingy than others so you never really know, you just try to go out there and play hard every shift.”
Regardless, the hit record is a phenomenal feat for Schenn, especially since his NHL career appeared to be at a crossroads back in 2018 when his team at the time, the Anaheim Ducks, sent him to the AHL.
Since then, he’s won two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he’s become a top-four fixture on Vancouver’s blueline.