Garry Unger could not have known what was in store for him when he was inserted into the Maple Leaf line-up on February 24, 1968 between Mike Walton and George Armstrong. Coach Punch Imlach had brought up the rookie in an effort to make the playoffs and to fill in for Dave Keon, who had been injured. The centre would stay in an NHL line-up through to the 1979-80 season, smashing the existing iron-man record by 284 games.
In the course of the streak, Unger was traded four times. Unger was part of a package sent to the Red Wings less than two weeks after the streak began. The Red Wings, in turn, moved Unger to the St. Louis Blues in the 1970-71 season, and it was with the Blues that he broke Andy Hebenton's iron-man record on March 10, 1976 in Toronto. Garry Unger moved on to the Atlanta Flames in 1979. On December 22, 1979, Flames coach Al MacNeil finally benched Unger, ending the streak at 914 consecutive games.
Despite his accomplishments, Garry Unger remained unfulfilled by what he had done. His inspiration throughout the streak had been his wheelchair bound younger sister yet when the record was his, Unger found he still didn't have meaning in his life. The trade to Atlanta put him in contact with Paul Henderson, whom he'd been traded for in 1968, and a group of Christian players. It was from them that Unger discovered the spirituality that he had been missing.
Garry Unger played three more seasons before leaving the NHL in 1983. Unger's record has since been surpassed by Doug Jarvis. He didn't win any Stanley Cups but Unger did emerge a complete man. With a new sense of purpose, Unger entered the coaching ranks, leading Tulsa to a championship in 1992-93, and remains there today. Garry Unger can also be found teaching at hockey schools during the summer months.