October 05, 2010

A Final Good Bye

Another new season is upon us. A clean sheet of ice awaits, like a blank canvas, for hockey's artists and storytellers to create new verses full of heroes and villains, and of course plenty of intrigue.

Before we drop the puck the on the new season, I wanted to take a moment to say good bye. Good bye to the hockey players who have hung up their blades and put away their sticks. Good bye to the retiring class of 2010.

Amongst those retiring are three defensemen destined for the Hockey Hall of Fame, probably as soon as they gain eligibility in three years time.

Chris Chelios - Arguably the greatest American player of all time, Chelios was a warrior who seemingly never aged. Chelios' career was broken up into three distinct eras - with Montreal, with Chicago and with Detroit. Most players could only hope for a career as good as any of Chelios' three reigns. Chelios was the perfect combination of talent, intelligence and physical bravado. Chelios played with an unmatchable passion for the game, always playing on the edge, sometimes willingly crossing it. There is no doubt that Chelios is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer in 2013
Scott Niedermayer - The winningest player in hockey history, Niedermayer is the only player in the history of the game to win the Memorial Cup, World Junior Championship gold, IIHF World Championship gold, Olympic gold medals (two times), the Stanley Cup (four times) and the World Cup. A brainy defender blessed with effortless skating stride that was simply a joy to watch, Niedermayer was as classy as they come. Like Chelios before him, Niedermayer is undoubtedly a first ballot Hall of Famer come 2013.

Rob Blake - A pupil of Larry Robinson, Rob Blake was the modern day equivalent of the great defender. Blake was a punishing body checker, with his trademark being the big open ice hit with his big butt backing right into you. He lacked the grace and polish of a Niedermayer, but the 1998 Norris Trophy winner was one of the game's top defensemen for 20 seasons. Blake will almost certainly be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, although he may have to wait beyond his first year of eligibility.

Also sure to garner Hall of Fame discussion will be Rod Brind'Amour and Keith Tkachuk.

Brind'Amour, a fitness fanatic, gained a reputation as a great two way player and a leader. The ultimate team player played 21 NHL seasons, scoring 452 goals and 732 assists in 1,484 regular-season games.

For a couple of seasons in the mid 1990s Keith Tkachuk could have been considered the best power forward in the game. He stretched his career to 19 seasons, where he scored 538 goals and 1065 points in 1201 career games.

Also leaving the game are Darryl Sydor, Mike Van Ryn, Darcy Tucker, Mathieu Dandenault, Georges Laraque, and Riley Cote.

Notable players leaving the NHL to end continue their careers in Europe are Evgeni Nabokov, Cristobal Huet, Pavol Demitra, Richard Park, Marek Svatos, Lukas Krajicek, Martin Skoula, Robert Nilsson, Denis Grebeshkov, Kyle Wellwood and Glen Metropolit. For a full list of players, NHL and otherwise, transfering to and from Europe, click here.

We may also have see the end of Paul Kariya. The three time first all star is sitting this season out to deal with the lingering effects of post-concussion syndrome.

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