If somebody who was oblivious to the game asked me to define the game of hockey, rather than barrage them with rules, terms, and purposes, I would simple say one name—Brendan Shanahan.
This man embodied what it meant to be a hockey player.
Throughout his entire NHL career, Brendan Shanahan, 40, was a consummate professional. Never once during his illustrious 21-year career did Shanny take a shift off.
Shanahan played the game the way it was meant to be played, night-in-and-night-out.
He played the game with the snarl, with grit, with finesse, and with grace.
Shanahan could beat you with his deadly wrist shot from the slot, or battle for the scrappy garbage-goals in the dirty areas.
Shanny was a lethal weapon on the power play, and yet a human sacrifice, dropping down and blocking shots on the penalty kill.
Nor was he afraid to drop the gloves and take part in the physicality of the game.
There was no area of the game that Shanahan was unable to play.
Shanahan never had the me first attitude—it was always about the team.
The former No. 2 pick in the '87 draft finished his career with 656 goals, 698 assists, and an outstanding plus-151, in 1524 games played.
Shanny ranks 11th all-time for career goals and was an eight-time All-Star.
Shanahan, after being drafted by the New Jersey Devils, played for the St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, the Detroit Red Wings—where he won three Stanley Cups—the New York Rangers, and then came full circle, retiring after his last season with the Devils.
In no way, shape or form, do I believe that Brendan Shanahan is done with the game of hockey. As a player, yes—but there is still a whole new level that has been untapped by Shanahan.
"He could do a million things that would influence hockey. He will do something great in hockey, you'll see," said former teammate and current Rangers goalie, Steve Valiquette.
Coaching is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Shanny hanging up the skates.
His ability to play the game was simply remarkable, but his leadership and teaching in the dressing room was incredible.
Brendan Shanahan is hockey.
For everything that you have given this game,
Thank you, Shanny.