Shanahan is just the man to make the NHL better
I don't put a great deal of stock in the fact that
As is the case with so many things in hockey, politics may have played a role in how the end of one of the great careers in NHL history was announced. While Shanahan wasn't and isn't considered anti-union, he did throw his lot in with the NHL when he pushed for rule changes and a reinvention of the game during the 2004-05 lockout. He was a driving force behind a committee charged, in part, with re-inventing the game once the lockout inevitably came to an end and he deserves hockey's undying thanks for that.
Still, there are those in the game, and especially within the hard-line ranks of the NHLPA, that felt the All-Star left winger, the second greatest scorer in the history of the game at that position, was just a tad too cozy with the Commissioner's office during that turbulent time and may have given strength to the NHL in its protracted battle with the union simply by not being more vocal and active in standing up for the players and their cause.
Truthfully, it is an issue for the history books to determine, but the significance of Shanahan's retiring statement coming from New York rather than the NHLPA's offices in Toronto is something that should be noted. Yet, the suggestion from former New York Rangers teammate
Speaking of the veteran forward after the announcement was made public, Valiquette told the Associated Press this week that: "Maybe he can help us out with our NHLPA situation. Maybe he will be our new executive director."
The Rangers backup goalie and freshly-minted NHLPA player rep went on to say: "Shanny is a leader through and through, so his leadership will be valuable in any capacity. He is either going to be a general manager or he could work for the NHLPA.
"He could do a million things that would influence hockey. He will do something great in hockey, you'll see."
We just might.
Shanahan commands that kind of respect. He could well choose the path that former teammate
That's a large challenge for any man, but Shanahan has never shied away from challenges. He's also not much for politics, choosing to simply follow a path that has served him well throughout his career and his life. First: make sure you believe you are right. Second: act accordingly.
That's a big part of the reason wht he brought his services to the NHL table. Sure, there were lots of people who felt the game needed to be reinvented after the lockout and I would personally argue that Commissioner
Shanahan was a near-perfect fit in that regard. He had been around the game long enough to see what it was and what it had become as it moved from the glorious high-scoring days of the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins with
In short, Shanahan was his own man, a player who had the good sense to listen and absorb the best of thinking regarding the game, but one who was equally able to dismiss the sometimes overwhelming short-sightedness and personal pettiness that often consumes it. His position was molded by a lifetime of experience in hockey, holding court in different places and playing in different systems and for different coaches, managers and owners.
The second player chosen overall in the 1987 Entry Draft and a player many inside hockey projected to be a far better contributor to a winning cause than
The 40-year-old retires as a sure Hall of Famer once his waiting period has passed. He scored 656 career goals, second at his position only to one of this year's Hall of Fame inductees,
"He was a very intelligent player," said
Of this we have no doubt.
If I can inject a personal memory of Brendan Shanahan, it would come at the time when his career thoughts might have been at his lowest. It was also a time when Shanahan, the person, was at his best:
A number of us media types were waiting in the mixed zone outside the Team Canada locker room in Nagano, Japan, after Canada lost to the Czech Republic in a shootout in one of the most memorable hockey games ever played. The 1998 Winter Games were the first time that the Olympics featured pro players and Canada naturally assumed the pressured role of favorite.
At first, he paused and started to make an excuse that family was waiting, but then, mindful of how important this game was to Canada and to all of hockey, he stopped, gathered himself and with his head as high as he could raise it given the circumstances, answered every question.
It was a class act and one that has never been far from my mind. In an age of self absorbed athletes, many of whom who feel they are privileged and owe nothing to anyone, Shanahan stood separate and apart. He did what he knew he had to do, pulling himself up from what was surely the most miserable moment of an otherwise spectacular career and fulfilling an obligation that many would have excused him from doing had he simply walked away.
That's character. In my mind, that's the kind of character that made Shanahan a winner in hockey and in life.
It may not seem like much to a fan and there are some who argue that he should not have even been asked to address his miss, but Shanahan understood the importance of holding himself accountable win or lose.
I've never forgotten that moment and hope I never will.
The press release issued Thursday states that the Columbus Blue Jackets "loaned" forward
Sources tell SI.com that the talented 19-year-old was unhappy with his playing time and the way he had been used and treated (mostly fourth-line assignments) by head coach
There may be a grain of truth to both those allegations, but the clear issue here is that Filatov, who advocated before his draft year that he wanted to play in the NHL and nowhere else, simply wasn't ready for the rigors of the big leagues and his play suffered for it.
There is a "loaned" spin to all of this because the Blue Jackets are hopeful they will get Filatov back for next season when he's a bit more rounded in his game and a bit more mature, but there is no guarantee. Russian-born players who don't thrive in the NHL often find both success and happiness in their homeland where the schedule is shorter, the demands are a bit less, and the money is almost as good.
Filatov was Columbus' first pick, the sixth player taken overall in the 2008 Entry Draft during which many clubs shied from drafting Russians in the early rounds because of the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Federation, and the fact that Russian players had success at jumping their NHL contracts by returning to their homeland. That's borne out by Nashville's loss of
Filatov is a true first-line prospect and the Blue Jackets are working under the cover of kid-glove treatment so as not to antagonize a a kid they still hold in high regard.
SI's longstanding claim to the notion that the apocalypse may well be upon us gained traction in the hockey world this week when the Philadelphia Flyers inducted
From all accounts, Schultz is a good man, a good father and he was a good son. He was also a fair hockey player in his day, once scoring 20 goals in a season. But he's in the Flyers Hall for one reason and one reason only: He beat people senseless.
A great day for hockey? Only in Philadelphia!