“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. 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.”
- Brendan Shanahan, NHL.com
Shanahan leaves the game with an impressive list of achievements. He’s part of what’s known as the “Triple Gold Club”, players who have won a Stanley Cup championship and gold medals in the Winter Olympics and World Championships. He played 1524 games, scoring 656 goals and 1354 points (he also recorded 2489 PIM). He topped 40 goals on six occasions, and 50 goals twice. He’s been an NHL All-Star three times, twice as a first-team member. His success on the ice will likely make him a shoe-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
One thing that is a shame is how he’s leaving. There is a certain poetry to finishing a storied career where it began (New Jersey, in this case) but there’s very little to leaving the team (perhaps not entirely by choice) at the start of training camp and then waiting around hoping an offer comes in. His agent (Rick Curran) was still optimistic towards the end of October, as he told the Boston Globe:
“[Shanahan]‘s fine. He’s skating every day at Chelsea Piers [in lower Manhattan], and still hoping he gets a call. It’s the usual issues. You know, roster limits, salary-cap restrictions. It’s just a matter of remaining patient and ready.”
Curran acknowledged that one team was still interested in Shanahan at that point; most likely the Philadelphia Flyers, who were one of several teams (Boston was another) that tried to sign Shanahan before he went back to the Devils, and were mentioned in reports during that time period.
Still, perhaps it’s for the best. Shanahan’s performance had been dropping off steadily after a very good effort with Detroit in 2005-06, and while he could probably still help out an NHL team’s power play, it’s likely that he would have been increasingly employed as a specialist and employed only sparingly at even strength. It wouldn’t have been a fitting end for one of the best power forwards of the modern era.