TORONTO - Derian Hatcher said he wouldn't have played if he was too sore.

But there is still one thing to consider. The veteran defenseman is two games away from playing in his 1,000 NHL game, a career milestone he very much looks forward to achieving this season.

"It's something I've been thinking about," Hatcher said. "I'll just take it game by game, but there is something like 200 guys in the history of the game that have played 1,000 games, and that's something I'm looking forward to.

"It would be disappointing not to [reach 1,000] this year. I'm not going to lie, it would be. But you never know what's going to happen every time you go out there; you never know."

Monday morning, his goal was in question. Hatcher was hit by New Jersey forward Patrick Elias on Friday and suffered a bruised left hip flexor.

He played Saturday against the Rangers, but went into yesterday questionable for the game against the Maple Leafs. The Flyers brought defensive prospect Ryan Parent on the trip in case he needed to step in, but Hatcher practiced yesterday morning and said he felt well enough to play.

"I'm fine, and if I wasn't fine, I wouldn't have played," he said.

"And that's the truth of it. I might be a little sore. But I wasn't going to go there for two shifts."

Hatcher said he plans reach his milestone Saturday, and has family coming in. But as for a big celebration, "I'm not planning one," he said. "We play on Sunday. I have people coming into town but, nothing big."

Cote honored

Riley Cote was voted the Phantoms' "American Speciality/AHL Man of the Year," for his work with the Phantoms on and off the ice.

Cote, who specializes in wracking up hits, fights and penalty minutes - 645 in 166 games in the past three seasons - is also known for his willingness to appear at public relations events and school visits.

Cote is filling in for Todd Fed-oruk as an enforcer with the Flyers, but he will be honored at an upcoming Phantoms game.

He is one of 27 players the running for the AHL's 2006-07 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, named for the former Hershey Bears and Flyers player who died in 1997 of leukemia. *