When Brendan Shanahan first broke into the National Hockey League with the New Jersey Devils in 1987, he probably didn’t expect to still be skating around and putting pucks in the net. Not many careers span three decades so if he does in fact retire then he can at least feel comfortable in the fact that he finished in the same town as he started in.
But that remains to be seen.
“I am planning to spend the next couple of weeks with my family to reflect on and evaluate my plans for the future,” the 40-year-old left wing said in a statement. Nowhere did he say that he was done.
After re-signing with the Devils over the summer, both parties had an agreement in place as an escape clause. “If we were unable to find a suitable fit in which I would be able to compete and contribute at the level I expect from myself, then I would simply step aside.”
Don’t count Shanny out. A similar situation occurred at the beginning of last season when the Rangers decided to not re-sign him after two campaigns at Madison Square Garden. More than half the season went by before Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello called and signed Shanahan for the final 34 games of the regular season. He scored only six goals and had eight assists after scoring at least 20 goals in every season since his second in the league.
The Devils are looking to get more playing time for a trio of prospects in Niclas Bergfors, Matt Haliscuk and Ilkka Pikkarainen. Their development would not continue as well if any of them were sent to the minors and the team is looking to give them the best opportunity to succeed at this level.
All three players showed promise during training camp and the preseason schedule and it takes a big man to step aside for the good of the team, plus he also was not satisfied with a limited roll. “I have great respect for Lou, Jacques (Devils head coach Lemaire) and the entire Devils organization,” Shanahan continued in the statement. “The decision was both mutual and amicable.”
In 1,524 career games, Shanahan has scored 656 goals and 698 assists (1,354 points) and a 151 +/- ratio. In 184 playoff games, he tallied 60 goals and 74 assists. The eight-time All-Star won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings (1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02) and was a mainstay of their mini-dynasty. After nine years in Motown, Shanahan signed with the Rangers as a free agent and tallied his 600th career goal as a Blueshirt on October 5, 2006 against Washington’s Olaf Kolzig.
Shanahan’s highest single season goal total came in 1993-94 when he had 52 with St. Louis. The year before, Shanahan had 51 goals for the Blues. During international play, Shanahan won a gold medal for Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup and another for his home country in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Needless to say, Shanahan should find himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day. That may be delayed if he finds a taker at this time. Certainly Lamoriello left the door open just a crack when he didn’t rule out a possible return for Shanahan or even a role within the organization in the future.