A truly significant event took place in the KHL regular championship match between Salavat Yulaev and Amur.

Evgeny Biryukov became the first hockey player in the history of the league to play 1,000 meetings.

In honor of this, the club prepared a special ceremony.

The athlete took to the ice with his wife and three children.

And on the video cube they turned on a video lasting several minutes in honor of the hero of the day.

In it, a selection of his spectacular actions was mixed with congratulations.

In particular, Evgeni Malkin, who began his career together with the defender at Magnitogorsk Metallurg, spoke with warm words.

The hero of the evening was clearly touched and in some episodes had difficulty holding back tears.

Then his partners Grigory Panin, Nikolai Kulemin and Danil Alalykin came onto the court and presented their friend with a commemorative jersey with the thousandth number and a beautiful gold stick.

True, Biryukov’s rivals were not going to give gifts.

The outsider unexpectedly gave battle to the Ufa team and almost won.

The hosts, with great difficulty, equalized the score in the middle of the final period and only put the squeeze on the Khabarovsk team in overtime.

Evgeniy himself played 13 minutes and failed to score points.

Despite this, his teammates recognized him as the best player in the opposition and gave him the traditional challenge prize - the national Bashkir headdress burek.

The veteran spoke in response.

“Indeed, today was an important day for me.

For me, for the family.

Thank you very much to our organization for holding such a holiday.

Happy victory to everyone, we can rest a little today,” he addressed his partners.

Immediately, the general manager of “Salavat Yulaev” Rinat Bashirov, addressing the ward by name and patronymic, wished him family well-being and handed him another burek.

The hero of the day himself did not hide his emotions.

He admitted that it was a great honor for him to enter the history of Russian hockey in this way.

“It’s not every day that you are the first to overcome such a milestone in the KHL.

In any case, this is an action that has not yet happened, because our league is quite young, it is now in its 16th season.

Therefore, a record is a record.

I wish all the guys to also overcome this milestone; many will do it.

I started my career in the Super League.

Currently, players play 60, 70, or even 80 matches per year.

The guys who played in the KHL from the first day have a reserve,” the league’s official website quotes the athlete.

He also admitted that he still retains the strength and emotions to continue his career.

At the same time, Biryukov noted that he is already trying to look into the future, when he hangs up his skates, and is thinking about life after this moment.

“I want to stay in hockey, because I devoted so many years to what I love.

Both experience and knowledge have been accumulated.

I would like to pass all this on to the new generation.

In what role, I have not yet decided.

I'll think about it later, when I decide everything for myself.

The season is now in full swing, the calendar is busy, the team has tasks, so all thoughts are only about this.

I always try to think about today, and I’ll decide what will happen next after the end of the season,” added Evgeniy.

Even KHL President Alexey Morozov, who had repeatedly crossed paths with him on the ice, personally congratulated the defender.

The manager called him a league legend and wished him to be on the court as long as possible and not experience health problems.

“A thousand matches is an outstanding achievement that Biryukov achieved.

Behind each of these thousand there is daily work, hard work and a professional attitude towards hockey, which he is already passing on to the young,” Morozov emphasized.

It was the head coach of the Ufa team, Vyacheslav Kozlov, who especially noted the important role of his ward in the locker room.

According to him, the veteran, although he does not get too much time in the current regular season, passes on his precious experience to his young teammates, leads them and, at 37 years old, remains a model of a professional attitude to business.

“The main thing is that Evgeniy has the same charge of energy, the same desire to work, play and please the fans - this is the most important thing for a professional hockey player.

So that there is desire and passion, and Evgeniy has them.

Therefore, he is so far the only one who has played 1,000 matches in the KHL.

I believe this achievement can be compared with Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space,” the specialist said.

His partners also wished him great sporting longevity.

For example, team captain Panin emphasized that at this age some people are already finishing their careers, but Biryukov still brings benefits to the team.

“In any case, we are reaching an age when you no longer become faster, but you become smarter.

I would like many people to strive for this record.

Keeping yourself in physical shape, maintaining your psychological state, being in a team and being one of its leaders, a guy - this is also a very important component,” said Panin.

And Kulemin noted not only the high level of his comrade’s skill, but also his human qualities.

He called 1000 matches held in the KHL an exorbitant figure that would be difficult for anyone to achieve.

Finally, the defender’s former partner in Metallurg and the Russian national team, Danis Zaripov, who himself hung up his skates only at the age of 42, rated his friend as a reliable teammate, unyielding on the court, but at the same time respectful of his opponents.

“This is a very significant figure that not everyone achieves.

I’m very happy for Zhenya, he’s a great guy, he’s the pride of our hockey.

For many years he remained healthy, played long series of games and was the first to reach the 1000 mark. This inspires respect, he is a great professional,” concluded Zaripov.

Biryukov’s achievement, if you go into details, is truly amazing, because he began his career 19 years ago as part of his native Metallurg and managed to spend three seasons in the Super League.

And in September 2008, he made his debut in the newly created KHL in a match with SKA at the age of 22.

Since then, the veteran has continued to take to the ice and, in just 15 years and 140 days, has reached the milestone.

At the same time, he has a streak of more than two years (from November 2016 to January 2019) when he did not miss a match.

His closest pursuers in terms of the number of meetings in the league are Vadim Shipachev (968) and Ilya Kablukov (946).

And in the Russian championships, Evgeniy played 1149 games and is quite capable of displacing Vitaly Atyushov (1201) from second place in this list.

He played the lion's share of matches for Magnitogorsk (779), but most often he opposed Salavat (58).

And most of all he went on the court with Denis Platonov (588), Sergei Mozyakin (537) and Viktor Antipin (496).

The old-timer also managed to work under the guidance of 12 mentors, and more often played with Ilya Vorobyov (193).

As already mentioned, despite the enormous respect in Ufa, the athlete’s name is associated primarily with Metallurg.

A native of the Chelyabinsk region, he studied at the Magnitogorsk school since childhood, and in September 2005 he made his debut in the main team at the age of 19.

And until 2020, he defended the colors of the squad.

“I don’t really focus on this.

But it’s very cool to play in your home team, in your hometown, where you grew up and which gave you a ticket to big hockey.

This is probably everyone's dream.

This is a rarity at this time,” the athlete said in an interview.

Already in 2007, he and his partners won the Russian Championship for the first time.

And in 2014 and 2016, he was an important part of the team that won two Gagarin Cups.

Moreover, in 2014, the athlete, not famous for his high performance, even scored a goal in the decisive seventh confrontation with Lev in the final.

All the more unexpected was the news about the termination of the contract with him in May 2020.

The reason is the most banal.

The management no longer saw Biryukov as an active hockey player and offered him a coaching position.

Evgeniy himself wanted to continue to go on the ice.

As a result, he signed an agreement with Salavat.

The hockey player also showed himself clearly at the international level.

In 2004, as a member of the Russian junior team, he won the World Championship, and two years later he took silver with the youth team.

The efficient, reliable defender was also in demand in the main national team.

In 2012, he won gold at the World Championships in Finland and Sweden, scoring four points at the tournament and upsetting Italy, and in 2015, together with his partners, he was content with second place.