by PuckStopsHere on 11/18/09 at 01:16 PM ET
I like to write a career retrospective when any future Hall of Fame player retires. Yesterday, Brendan Shanahan announced his retirement, so here is his career retrospective.
Brendan Shanahan was born on January 23rd, 1969 in Mimico, Ontario (which became a part of Toronto as Toronto expanded). Shanahan grew up playing hockey in the Metro Toronto hockey system. It was as a 16 year old he was first seriously noticed by NHL scouts. Shanahan joined the London Knights of the OHL to play his junior career. Shanahan was a star in junior. He scored at better than point per game rate in his rookie year and added 92 points in 56 games in his second junior season. He was immediately seen as a leader and ran some Knights practices when the coach was unavailable. As a 17 year old, Shanahan starred for Team Canada in the World Junior Hockey Championships. He scored seven points in six games/ This was the year that a bench clearing brawl between Canada and the Soviet Union left both teams disqualified, so Shanahan did not play for a World Junior medal. Shanahan was chosen second in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils (Pierre Turgeon was selected first overall).
As an 18 year old, Shanahan earned a spot on the New Jersey Devils. This was a weak team that had not made the playoffs since they had moved the New Jersey, but it was also a young team that was ready for a step forward. Shanahan became part of the young core that helped to make the Devils a respectable team. He was a talented forward who never stayed away from the physical aspects of the game. His offence took a while to emerge, but by his third NHL season, he was scoring at point per game level. In 1992, Shanahan became a restricted free agent and was signed by the St Louis Blues. Under the rules at the time, teams would have to give up players as compensation. An arbitrator ruled that Blues captain Scott Stevens (who had been signed to a similar large restricted free agent contract the previous season) would be the compensation. This arbitration ruling was seen as excessive. Stevens was one of the top defencemen in the game. He was a former first team all star. Shanahan was a valuable physical winger who had only played four years in the NHL and had not (yet) shown himself to be on Stevens’s level. This ruling (though it seems more balanced in hindsight because Shanahan continued to develop) was one of the reasons that the NHL shifted to a system of pre-arranged compensation draft picks for the signing of restricted free agents instead of the more unpredictable arbitration awards.
Shanahan was becoming a star in his own right. He was chosen to play for Team Canada in the 1992 Canada Cup, but he was given a lesser role and was not one of the stars of the team. In St Louis, Shanahan continued to develop. His 1993/94 season was his best season statistically. He scored 52 goals, 102 points and had 211 penalty minutes. All three were career bests for him. Shanahan was clearly a top power forward in the NHL. It was that season when Shanahan played in his first of eight career NHL All Star Games. At season’s end, he made the First |Team All Star. The following season, Mike Keenan took over as St Louis coach and he and Shanahan did not get along. Shanahan was the second highest scorer on the Blues (behind Brett Hull), but he earned a spot in the Mike Keenan doghouse. After one season, Keenan had Shanahan traded to Hartford for Chris Pronger. Although Pronger had shown considerable potential, in his two seasons to date, he had not established himself as an All Star and this was seen as a risky deal for Keenan (though Pronger did develop into a Hall of Fame calibre player in his own right - Shanahan was clearly the better player at this point).
Shanahan moved onto Hartford and was their representative in the 1996 All Star Game. Shanahan was selected to play on Team Canada in the 1996 World Cup. This time he was a key player with the team scoring six points in seven games. However, he was unhappy in Hartford, largely due to the financial uncertainty of the franchise. This led Shanahan to ask for a trade. Early in the 1996/97 season he got his wish. Shanahan and Brian Glynn were traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau and the Red Wings 1997 first round draft pick (Nikos Tselios).
Detroit was a very good team that was about to have a run at the top of the NHL. Shanahan fit in well and became a key part of the championship teams Detroit produced. The Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998 (Shanahan’s first two years in town). Shanahan participated in the 1998 Olympics with Canada as well. Shanahan was a star with the Red Wings earning several individual awards. He made the 2000 First Team All Star. In 2002, he won his third Stanley Cup with the Wings and was selected to the Second Team All Star. He was also a member of the gold medal winning 2002 Canadian Olympic Team. In 2003, he was recognized for his leadership and his humanitarian contribution to the Detroit community with the Clancy Trophy (his only individual NHL award). Shanahan played out his contract with the Detroit Red Wings in 2006, when salary cap pressures forced him to move on.
He signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers. Shanahan spent two years with the Rangers (including his final All Star Game appearance), before being forced to move on again due to salary cap pressures.
Not wanting to leave his family, who had set up roots in New York, Shanahan declined a few offers to sign as a free agent (including a potential return to St Louis). At mid-season, the New Jersey Devils signed him and Shanahan played a final 34 games (scoring 14 points). Shanahan re-signed with the Devils last summer, but was unable to secure a spot on the team in training camp. Shanahan parted ways with the Devils and took some time to look over his options before announcing retirement yesterday.
Brendan Shanahan retires with 656 career goals (11th all time) and 698 career assists for 1354 career points (23rd all time). His 1524 career NHL games is the 11th most all time. His 2489 penalty minutes is 22nd all time. He has a prominent place on many all time lists. It is believed that he had the most “Gordie Howe hat tricks” all time (a goal, an assist and a fight), but sufficient records do not exist to fully verify this claim.
Shanahan’s retirement leaves behind fifteen players on my list of currently active Hall of Famers. Here is the list:
As hockey is played this year, the list may expand. It is also possible that it may contract as some of the veteran players who are out of the NHL including Chris Chelios and Peter Forsberg, reconsider their futures.
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