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New Jersey Devils' Patrik Elias celebrates in front of Los Angeles Kings' Slava Voynov after scoring during the third period of Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals in Los Angeles, June 6, 2012.Reuters

It may be a bit of an obscure record, but it's one that speaks to Nick Lidstrom's longevity and impact on his team: He played more games in a career with only one NHL franchise (1,564) than any other NHL player, passing both Alex Delvecchio and Steve Yzerman this season.

With Lidstrom announcing his retirement, he's passed the active leader in the category on to Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Daniel Alfredsson, Patrick Marleau and two Devils playing in these Stanley Cup finals, Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias.

In an era when so many players now play for five or six teams over their careers, those six all have more than 1,000 regular season games with one organization.

One of those faces of the franchise types, however, almost never made that extraordinary club.

As Elliotte Friedman pointed out last week (No. 18 of his 30 thoughts), the Devils and Elias were set to part ways when he became a free agent in 2006.

With July 1 approaching, there were at least three serious candidates to sign him: 1) The division rival New York Rangers, 2) The Los Angeles Kings, who had missed the playoffs and 3) the Montreal Canadiens, one of the lower scoring teams in the East.

As per the norm, the Rangers had the highest bid, putting a behemoth six-year deal for $7-million a season on the table. (The Kings instead signed Rob Blake and the Habs went with Sergei Samsonov, two moves that didn't pan out so well.)

Negotiations between New York and Elias hit a snag when they wouldn't give him a no-trade or no-move clause, something the Devils were willing to do to keep him from signing with a hated rival as long as the price came down.

It did, and Elias is still playing on the seven-year deal he signed way back then.

Overall, he's had a tough playoffs so far, taking a puck to the face against the Rangers, being slammed into the boards on Saturday against the Kings and putting up only eight points in during the Devils run.

In the regular season, however, he very quietly finished tied for 10th in NHL scoring with 78 points, giving him an average of 65 points a season over the first six years of that contract (28th in the league in that span).

He's also been one of the more effective Devils in these finals despite having turned 36 at the start of the playoffs, as he's averaging nearly 20 minutes a night (fourth among their forwards) and is one of only four New Jersey forwards with more than one point.

Add in his underrated defensive play and Elias has been a valuable member of this team even without the point totals.

"I mean, imagine this guy if he played in Toronto, in a centre like that," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said when asked about Elias before Game 5. "For me, he's a Hall of Fame player. He does it all. He's a coach in the dressing room. He knows how to win. He knows how to find another level at key times.

"He had some struggles early in the playoffs. But you can see, I think he's been our most consistent guy here through the finals at a key time. There's a reason he's got multiple Stanley Cups. You know, he has the success he has this time of year."

The best part of the story of Elias almost becoming a Ranger was probably what came the following season.

Still unhappy that Lou Lamoriello had somehow snuck in and taken back their player when a contract for Elias was already essentially agreed to, Rangers GM Glen Sather went out and signed away another Devil as part of a big July 1 spending spree in 2007.

Five years later, however, here's betting they would be happier with Elias on their roster with a no-trade clause than that seven-year, $51.5-million deal they gave Scott Gomez.

Most games with only one franchise (active)