Growing up, hockey names like Sergei Gonchar, Niklas Lidstrom, Bill Guerin and Chris Osgood were hot commodities around the league.
Ten years ago, Lidstrom was second among defensemen with 57 points, Gonchar was second among defensemen in goals with 21, Guerin was a 30-goal scorer and Chris Osgood’s numbers were in the upper echelon of goaltenders around the league.
It’s nice to see that 10 years later, in a league that is going through a “life cycle” and being over taken by young stars, these four veterans are helping their teams march through the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals.
Nicklas Lidstrom: Most people’s jaws drop when they hear that Nicklas Lidstrom is 39-years old, because the guy plays with an offensive prowess of a young kid and the shut-down defensive game of a hefty veteran.
Arguably one of the best defenseman of all time has grown and matured into the player he is now right in front of our eyes. Lidstrom’s game has stayed amazingly consistent over his 18 years in the NHL (all those with the Detroit Red Wings) only dropping below tallying less then 40 points twice in his career (one of those years he only played 43 games).
Lidstrom’s game is showing no signs of slowing down, as he tallied 59 points and is up for his seventh Norris Trophy. He’s averaging close to 25 minutes of ice in the Stanley Cup finals as he looks to lead the Wings to another Stanley Cup.
Sergei Gonchar: Gonchar has always been known as an offensive defenseman who struggles in his own zone.
However, his offensive talents have always had him near the top of the league over the past several years. The 35-year-old missed much of this season due to injury, but his playoff numbers have been solid with 14 points and a +4 rating.
Gonchar is proving himself to be both offensively and defensively sound, defending against some of the best players the game has to offer.
Gonchar bounced back from a knee injury in the second round of the playoffs and has been a huge factor in helping his team compete. Tuesday night, Gonchar scored the game winner to cut the Red Wings series lead in half, 2-1.
Chris Osgood: Osgood was called out by the media after arguably his worst season ever between the pipes. People thought that he was going to be the reason for Detroit’s downfall.
Well, the 36-year-old did more than just bounce back in these playoffs. Most members of the media have Osgood winning the Conne Smythe Trophy as Detroit goes onto win the Stanley Cup. His numbers speak for themselves: a 2.00 GAA and a .972 save percentage.
Osgood doesn’t become a unrestricted free agent until 2011-12, but one has to beg the question if the Conne Smythe and another Cup with Chris will lead him to call it quits.
Bill Guerin: Guerin was once a 50, 60 and even 70-point player in his career.
But over the last few seasons, we haven’t seen that side of Bill Guerin. The 39-year-old has re-surged this post season.
After moving from Long Island to Pittsburgh, Guerin has been getting some time on a line with Sidney Crosby. Although he has performed well thus far in the finals, in the past 13 games Guerin has racked in 12 points.
As some of these veterans time in the NHL ticks down, it’s interesting to wonder where their respective teams would be without them.
Where would the Toronto Maple Leafs have been without Phil Housley in 2002-03?
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