On Thursday, January 6, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub voracek, a Columbus Blue Jackets player, sat at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey. He skated in his 1,000th regular-season game in the National Hockey League. With one shot in 20:26 of ice time during Columbus’ 3-1 loss to the Devils, Voracek became the 12th native of the Czech Republic to accomplish the feat and the fourth player to reach the mark as a Blue Jacket.
“That I’m old, first of all. It’s just, I’ve been really fortunate not being hurt much throughout my career. I didn’t miss many games. This is something that I take great pride in. Even if I’m banged up or was banged up throughout the year, I can always find a way to play the game.”
– Jakub VoracekHere’s what he means by reaching 1,000 games
To commemorate the milestone, let’s take a look back at the road The vivacious VoracekIt took him over 1,000 NHL games to reach that point. He started in Columbus, followed by his star performance in Philadelphia, and finally his return to the team who drafted his.
Voracek Impresses Well on the First Impression
Voracek was born in Kladno (Czechoslovakia) in 1989. He was the seventh overall pick of the Blue Jackets during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old made his NHL debut in October 2008 with a goal in the 15:53 mark of his first period. Later, he added an assist to a 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars.
Voracek played in 80 games during that season. He scored nine goals and added 29 assists. The rookie helped the Blue Jackets qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history, and he had the lone assist on the first playoff goal in Blue Jackets history (scored by R.J. Umberger).
Voracek’s second season was better. He scored 50 points (16 goals and 34 assists) in 81 games. After tallying 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) in 80 games during the 2010-11 season, the 21-year-old was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23, 2011, along with a first-round pick and third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, for Jeff Carter — a deal that worked out much better for Philadelphia than it did for Columbus.
Voracek is made an All-Star in Philly
Voracek, just like with the Blue Jackets made a strong impression on the Flyers. His first period saw him score 19:57. In a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins, Voracek’s goal was the game-winning goal.
Voracek was a Philadelphia native who scored 49 points (18 goals, 39 assist) in 78 games. He also added 10 points (two assists, eight goals) in 11 playoff matches. Jaromir Jagr, a Kladno native, was also able to play in Voracek’s first year in Philadelphia. The Flyers signed a one-year deal shortly after Voracek was acquired.
On July 26, 2012 Voracek signed a four year extension and was expected to take over the Jagr-occupied top-line position. The right winger was able to score 46 points in the 2013 lockout-shortened season. He had 22 goals and 24 assists in 48 games. On February 20, 2013, he also scored his first NHL hat-trick.
The 24-year-old scored 62 points in the next season (23 goals and 39 assists) in 82 matches. He scored 81 points in the next season (22 goals and 59 assists) and was selected for the NHL All-Star Game. During that All-Star Game, which was held in Columbus, Voracek tallied six points, tying Mario Lemiuex‘s 1988 record for most points in the annual meeting of stars.
Voracek played in 73 games in 2015-16 and scored 55 points. In 2016, Voracek returned to full-season play, scoring 61 points in 82 games in the 2016-17 season. His best season was 2017-18 when he played in 82 games and scored 85 goals and 65 assists. In his last three seasons in Philadelphia, he scored 165 points in 200 games. He played in 727 regular-season games for the Flyers, scoring 177 goals and 427 assist. In 45 playoff games, he also scored nine goals and 18 assists.
Voracek returns to Columbus
Voracek was traded to the Blue Jackets on July 24, 2021 for Cam Atkinson. This marked the end of Voracek’s career. However, Voracek was not a young star prospect looking to showcase his skills. He was a veteran presence with proven playmaking abilities brought in to create opportunities for young goal scorers.
Voracek has appeared in all 32 of the Blue Jackets’ games so far in his return season in Columbus, tallying one goal and 22 assists. Voracek has been paired with Cole Sillinger, a talented rookie, and Patrik Laine (a dangerous sniper), where he can maximize his passing abilities. Voracek, 32 years old, was paired up with Sillinger (18 year old) and Yegor Chinakhov (20 year old) when Laine was gone.
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Although he’s now the elder statesman on this Blue Jackets team, Voracek continues to show the playmaking ability, durability and toughness that got him to 1,000 career NHL games. He currently ranks 125th in NHL career assists (544), and has missed five games or less in 13 of his 14 seasons. Herzlichen Glückwunsch to Voracek for reaching the 1,000-game milestone.
Grant is a freelance journalist covering the Florida Panthers, and Columbus Blue Jackets. His own sports blog was started (Head in the game) in 2013 and worked in the sports information department while at Trine University, from where he graduated in 2019. Follow Grant @G_Tingley on Twitter.