NHL.com has breaking news - since 3:15 PM even - that Brendan Shanahan has announced his retirement from hockey. Adam Kimelman has the story and the important quote from Shanahan himself:
"I would like to thank my family and all of the friends who have helped me achieve and maintain my childhood dream of playing in the National Hockey League," Shanahan said. "I am enormously grateful to all of my coaches and teammates I've had the privilege of learning from and playing along side of, throughout my career. While I always dreamed of playing in the NHL, I can't honestly say that I would have ever imagined that I'd be this fortunate and blessed. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has helped me fulfill this dream."
Shanahan will most likely be primarily remembered as a Detroit Red Wing (and maybe as a St. Louis Blue too), as that is where he found much of his success in his hockey career. He'll also be remembered as strong, power-forward who was gifted with an excellent shot and earning respect wherever he went.
When the initial news broke, it certainly was a surprise. This later report from Tom Gulitti gave insight into why he was cut; Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire stated plainly that he didn't want to keep Shanahan solely as a fourth liner. Gulitti also learned from Lemaire that the decision to cut him was a difficult one, considering that Shanahan was the first player drafted with Lou in the organization:
Lemaire said the meeting Wednesday with Shanahan was "worse for Lou because he drafted him. A 18 years old, he played for him. It was hard. I could tell just by his breathing after. It was not easy."
"Myself, I didn't want Shanny to come in and be a fourth-line type of player. I wouldn't want that," Lemaire said. "It's just how I look at things. When a veteran like him had the type of career he had, you don't want to play him on a line that it would be tough to produce for him. And it's still his game to produce points. To do it, he's got to play on the top lines and now the top lines we have players that are ahead."
In a way, it's nice that the Devils didn't want to confine him to the fourth line; but that's not much of a mitigation, understandable as it may be. Being cut is definitely a sad feeling regardless. And, unfortunately, the rest of the league agreed without saying a word and so Shanahan was left as a free agent so far. Rather than wait like last season, Shanahan figured it was time to end his playing career at age 40.
Truth be told, as disappointing at how his career has ended, I don't think Shanahan should be at all disappointed at all with how his career went. Even late into his career, he played the majority if not the full season, constantly had over 250 shots per season, and could be counted on for at least 20 goals even in the season before last. OK, so the short stint in New Jersey wasn't so prolific, but Shanahan showed he had a little left in the tank on the Devils' fourth line and second power play unit - putting up 6 goals and 8 assists in 34 games off of 77 shots. Still, Shanahan was an impact player for much longer than most would expect for a hockey player; and he has achieved a lot in since his career began in 1987 with New Jersey.
Here's the career statline from the former Devil (Blue, Whaler, Red Wing, and Ranger). Stats from NHL.com:
|Career - Brendan Shanahan||1521||656||698||1354||151||2489||237||23||109||5086||12.9|
|Playoffs - Brendan Shanahan||184||60||74||134||31||279||19||1||12||622||9.6|
With over 650 goals (over 100 game winners) and over 1,350 points, three Stanley Cups, two gold medals (2002 Olympics, World Championships), and a King Clancy trophy, I think it's a safe bet he'll go to the Hockey Hall of Fame real soon. He truly was one of the great power forwards of the 1990s (and 2000s). He proved that a player in his late 30s can still be a significant contributor on the ice. And then there's his contributions off the ice with respect to his summit paving the way for a number of the rule changes we see in today's NHL (as noted in the NHL.com article).
Thank you, Brendan Shanahan. Best of luck to you in the next stage of your life.