Not only is it the title of a pretty good Brad Pitt movie, but it’s also the number of professional hockey games Jake Bischoff has played since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A lot of hockey players missed games due to the pandemic. But to put this into perspective, Phil Kessel, who is aiming for the NHL’s ironman streak, has played 147 games since the NHL paused for COVID.
It wasn’t just the pandemic that halted the progress of Golden Knight’s depth defenseman Bischoff. It was primarily a knee injury. After blocking a shot in an AHL game, his knee was “shattered” and required surgery.
This happened a little after the start of COVID when things looked like they were getting back to normal. But Bischoff still had to persevere through both a global pandemic and a severe career-halting injury.
“It’s tough, right? I was on crutches for a long time and was not able to bend my leg at all for a couple of months. It was a long process to get back. I had a lot of setbacks and a lot of different things that didn’t go exactly how I wanted,” said Bischoff.
“A lot of people obviously reached out and were very helpful. I had a great support system around me with the training staff, the team, my family, my wife, and just everyone who was great with the whole process and always there for me,” Bischoff added.
Now, over two years later, Bischoff is recovering well and is slowly making his way back into the Golden Knight’s system. He’s one of the few Henderson Silver Knights guys with an NHL locker at City National.
“Just being back in has been awesome. After spending that much time away from the game, it was definitely a mental grind for sure. Being back out here with the guys and competing has been great,” said Bischoff after Friday’s morning skate.
To the surprise of even himself, Bischoff has held onto a shot of a roster spot with the Golden Knights and remains on the team’s training camp roster. He is currently signed to just an AHL deal. The Golden Knights only have one more preseason game left on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes in Boise.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it coming in. Obviously, with just the AHL contract, and the fact that I haven’t played in a long time, I had no idea how things would go. I hadn’t really taken contact or anything yet, but the knee is holding up well, and I’m just happy to still be here,” said Bischoff.
Bischoff is likely behind guys like Kaedan Korczak, Ben Hutton, and the hopefully-to-be-signed-soon Nicolas Hague for a spot in the lineup. But having the 28-year-old in the organization is added defensive depth for Bruce Cassidy, Manny Viveros, and the entire Knights coaching staff.
“I’d say I’m more of a shutdown D-man. I definitely think I can provide some offense as well. I like to try to get up in the play as much as possible. But I definitely take pride in shutting teams down,” said Bischoff when asked about the style of play can provide.
Depending on how you define things, Bischoff could be considered an original Golden Knight. He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2012 but sent over to Vegas with Mikhail Grabovski for expansion draft considerations.
On Oct. 19, 2020, he made his NHL debut in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. He has played a total of four NHL games which all came in the 2019-20 season. This season he is expected to play with the Silver Knights and lead a strong defense corps that features him, Korczak, Daniil Miromanov, Zack Hayes, and Brayden Pachal.
His goals for the upcoming season are as follows…
“Health-wise, I want to say healthy. That’s a number one goal for sure. And then just I just want to try and play the best hockey I can and get back to playing how I used to play back before this. I want to get my confidence and everything up and just sort of see what happens.”
It may have been a brutal injury that halted his career, but Bischoff says it only made him stronger.
“It’s sort of one of those things where what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… It sort of makes me feel like I can take on anything,” Bischoff said confidently.