Toughness, fitness big parts of Andrew Cogliano's nearly 700 straight games

Andrew Cogliano isn't the biggest player in the NHL, but he takes care of his body and displays incredible toughness. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Andrew Cogliano doesn't like to discuss it.

The Anaheim Ducks forward is superstitious enough to believe that if he talks about his current streak of 672 consecutive games -- making him the NHL's reigning ironman -- he could jinx it. It's understandable he feels that way, but it's still an impressive accomplishment.

Cogliano, 28, has never missed a game since his NHL debut on Oct. 4, 2007, with the Edmonton Oilers. He's only the third player in the last 20 seasons to play more than 600 consecutive games, joining Jay Bouwmeester (737) and Henrik Sedin (679).

Eight players in NHL history have played 600 or more consecutive games. Current Boston Bruins assistant coach Doug Jarvis is the all-time ironman with 964 consecutive games from Oct. 8, 1975, to Oct. 10, 1987. He played his entire career without missing a game.

"To be honest, I never thought about it when I was playing," Jarvis said. "The only time it would gain any attention would be when you would pass somebody on the consecutive-game ladder. Then you wouldn't hear about until the next [milestone], which could have been two or three years later. I just loved playing the game. I wanted to play every game and I had the privilege to do that."

Behind Jarvis on the ironman list of 600 or more games played: Garry Unger (914, 1979-86), Steve Larmer (884, 1982-93), Craig Ramsey (776, 1973-83), Bouwmeester (737, 2004-14), the aforementioned Sedin (679, 2004-14 with Vancouver), Cogliano and Andy Hebenton (630, 1955-64). Only Jarvis played more consecutive games to start his career than Cogliano has.

There's one common theme with all of those players.

"Those guys are all tough," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They never talk about injuries. They never worry about ice bags. It takes durability. It takes will."

Cogliano is listed at 5-foot-10, 184 pounds. So, what's his secret to playing so many consecutive games?

"If you followed him around, you would know why it's possible," Boudreau said. "He eats the right foods. He gets the right rest. He does the right exercise. He takes care of his body all the time. You add that with, for a little guy, there's an innate toughness.

"I've seen him get his teeth knocked out. I've seen him take knee-to-knee hits that he can't skate to the bench, then 10 minutes later he's good to go. There's that inner toughness. He's not going to fight anybody or anything like that, but he's a tough little guy."

The only injury that threatened Jarvis' streak was a concussion he suffered in Detroit somewhere in 600-game range, as he recalls. He was monitored during the night and given the clearance to play the next game. Had that occurred in today's game, his streak would have ended.

His streak ultimately ended when he decided it was time for a career change. Jarvis played two games for the Hartford Whalers at the start of the 1987-88 season and his NHL playing career ended on Oct. 10, 1987.

"I had a feeling during that training camp. I was sensing that I didn't know what my situation was going to be," he said.

He was placed on waivers, and while he was waiting to see if he cleared or was picked up by another team, his coaching career began. Jarvis went to Binghamton, at the time Hartford's AHL affiliate, as a player/assistant coach, and later that season was promoted to head coach. He's been coaching ever since.

Jarvis was part of six Stanley Cup championships, four as a player with the Montreal Canadiens and one each as an assistant with Dallas (1999) and Boston (2011).

Like Cogliano, Bouwmeester never wanted to talk about his streak while it was intact.

"People would ask about it and when it was going on, you didn't really want to talk about it, or jinx it or anything like that," said Bouwmeester, who recently admitted the streak is something he's proud of, and that he understands there are so many elements that go into keeping a streak like that going, especially in today's game.

"It's something you knew would eventually come to an end."

Bouwmeester's streak ended after a 10-year run, on Nov. 22, 2014, due to a lower-body injury. His first game out of the lineup felt a bit strange for him.

"Every time you miss a game, it kind of reminds you how much fun it is to play," he said. "It's not exciting when you have to watch."

New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle, 29, has played in 509 consecutive games and owns the second-longest active streak in the league. He is quick to credit his trainers in his previous home in Arizona, in New York and at home in Boston during the offseason. Like the others ahead of him, Yandle eats right and gets the proper rest.

His secret to playing every game is simple.

"It's something you learn as a kid, just showing up to work every day and I learned that from my parents," Yandle said. "Whether it's your classmates, teammates, friends -- you want to be there for them. I take a lot of pride in it and I'm just trying to help out any way I can. It means a lot for me.

"You always want to be in the lineup and you always want to play. It's still fun for me to go out there every day, put the skates on and you get to play this game. To play at the highest level is an honor. You never want to take any night off and it's about having fun every day. I'm just going as long as I can go. As long as I'm fortunate enough and as long as I'm having fun."

So, he's still having fun?

"Oh, yeah," Yandle said.

The elusive combination of love for the game, relative good health and a bit of luck is part of the reason the all-time ironman list is so small. When asked what it would be like to have 20 of those types of players on his team, Boudreau said he would "be very happy."

The other common thread between the players involved in such a streak is their appreciation for the game.

"I'm grateful that I was able to play in the NHL," Jarvis said. "I was grateful that I was able to play in the league and have a career, and when the playing days were done to still be healthy."

At some point, Cogliano will be able to reflect on his career, and no matter how long his streak continues, and even though he doesn't want to jinx it, he should be proud.

ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance contributed to this report