By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- For Barret Jackman, his first NHL game in 2002 may have been a blur, but it's a day the 32-year-old will never forget.
Not even after 11 seasons and now, 700 career regular season games.
Jackman's stat line for that April 14, 2002 day against the Detroit Red Wings didn't come with any goals or assists, but looking across from his left defensive position and seeing Hall of Famer Al MacInnis would make any player feel in awe.
"Having played with Al my first year, I learned so much," said Jackman, who played 18 minutes 26 seconds that night with one shot and two penalty minutes. "I was a lucky rookie defensemen that got to play with one of the greatest defensemen to ever come through here.
"Just the whole experience. I flew in the day of the game, got to Joe Louis Arena about 15, 20 minutes before warmup. I really didn't have time to kind of sit there and get too nervous except the plane ride in. Once I got to the rink, it was just go, go, go. I just remember the start of the game and the final buzzer and just how excited was to get the opportunity to play in the NHL."
Jackman will reach 700 NHL games today when the Blues (38-12-6) will close out the pre-Olympic portion of their 82-game schedule when they host the red-hot Winnipeg Jets (28-26-5) at 1 p.m. (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM).
Jackman is the longest-tenured defenseman in a Blues uniform with his growing feat and fourth overall behind Bernie Federko (927), Brian Sutter (779) and Brett Hull (744) for games played in Blues franchise history.
Jackman was drafted 17th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft and has suited up for the only franchise he's ever known.
"It's amazing," Jackman said. "To actually be here this long and to see that number 700, it's come up pretty quick but it's also seemed like many years ago when I started.
"I think you almost look at every game. To this point, 700 is a nice round number, but I'm very lucky and honored to be in the NHL and to be a part of the Blues organization every game I put on the Bluenote. It's another day that I'm just grateful and excited to continue on. ... Coming into the league, you never know. Your first game, you always think, 'I'm going to play my whole career,' but the more time goes on, the more guys come and go and I'm the only one from six, seven years ago that is left. It's pretty fun."
Brenden Morrow played in his 900th career game Thursday against the Boston Bruins, but his feat has come with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and now the Blues. But as linemate Kevin Shattenkirk said, to accomplish these feats for one franchise is extra special.
"It's an amazing feat, especially to do it all with one team," Shattenkirk said. "I think you rarely see that these days. We couldn't be prouder of him. He's obviously earned it. It's been a great ride all the way up for him until this point. There's one thing that he's missing on his resume and that's our goal this year. Hopefully we can keep pushing forward and do it for him.
"He's been great to me. I probably wouldn't be where I am today without Jacks. As far as talking to me on the ice, talking me through situations and really being a soundboard. He's someone you obviously follow in the locker room and the weight room but away from the rink, too. He's charitable, he's so generous with his time. He's just a very admirable person and easy to look up to. ... He's the longest-tenured athlete in St. Louis, and fans appreciate that."
Jackman has 26 goals and 164 points in 11 seasons as well as a goal and four points in 27 Stanley Cup playoff games. And there are many people, MacInnis included, that have impacted the Trail, British Columbia native's career.
"You look at guys like Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis, the Plager brothers (Bob and Barclay), just some of the guys that have been through here," Jackman said. "It's a big accomplishment for me. I looked (up) to those guys that I played with before and even guys I didn't play with like Bobby Plager for a lot of guidance and they've been big mentors for me.
"And you look at guys like Kelly Chase who's taught me a lot about charity and giving back to the community and Bobby Plager about how to treat your teammates and the tradition of the game. And (Blues associate coach) Brad Shaw. I've had him for 550 of those 700 games. He's been a tremendous part of my growth as a defenseman and continually learning every day with him. Brad Shaw's probably been the most molding influence on my career so far."
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The Blues' probable lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-David Backes-Alexander Steen
Magnus Paajarvi-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie/Dmitrij Jaskin
Brenden Morrow-Derek Roy-Vladimir Tarasenko
Ryan Reaves-Maxim Lapierre-Chris Stewart
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Jordan Leopold-Roman Polak
Brian Elliott will start in goal. Jaroslav Halak will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Ian Cole, Carlo Colaiacovo and Dmitrij Jaskin is expected to be scratched. Vladimir Sobotka (knee) is on injured reserve.
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The Jets' projected lineup:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Devin Setoguchi-Olli Jokinen-Dustin Byfuglien
Eric Tangradi-James Wright-Anthony Peluso
Tobias Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy-Keaton Ellerby
Al Montoya will start in goal. Ondrej Pavelec will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Eric O'Dell, Zach Redmond and Paul Postma. Evander Kane (hand infection), Jim Slater (sports hernia), Matt Halischuk (forearm) and Grant Clitsome (back) are all on injured reserve.