|After winning the Stanley Cup with Carolina two seasons ago, Glen Wesley contemplated retirement. Watch Glen Wesley video|
Would it have been easy to call it a career -- a very successful career -- when the celebration died down?
Would that have been the wrong move?
Wesley, in his 20th NHL season, has played 1,447 career regular-season games. He's still a key contributor on the Hurricanes' blue line, a seemingly ageless wonder who has transformed from a young power-play threat into a reliable veteran stopper.
In the Hurricanes' dressing room, Wesley also is viewed as a leader, spokesperson, mentor and friend. It's for those reasons -- and many more that the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association nominated Wesley for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
"It's an honor and a privilege," Wesley said of being nominated for the second time in his career (2001). "It could have been a number of guys on the team, but it's not something I take lightly. When you hear those comments, a lot of that comes from your peers. They're the biggest compliments you can get."
Wesley, though, didn't put off retirement so he could win an award, even one as prestigious as the Masterton, which recognizes his heart as much as his muscle. He put it off so he could win another Stanley Cup.
Despite having played in nearly 1,500 games -- he's sixth all-time among defensemen, with Chris Chelios being the only active player ahead of him -- and 169 playoff games, Wesley has won the Stanley Cup only that one time.
He still hears the roar of the enthusiastic RBC Center crowd ringing in his ears.
"(Retirement) was definitely something that I thought about, but the bottom line for me is when you get a taste of winning you want to do it again," Wesley said. "I sat down with my family a couple of weeks after we won and decided I wanted another crack at it just because with the core group of players here, there is only a small opportunity to win again. That's one of the things you have to think about, is that chance to win again."
Carolina, though, failed to make the playoffs last season, leaving Wesley another window of opportunity to step away from the game. Instead, he signed a one-year contract on June 1, 2007, the same time Anaheim and Ottawa were battling for the Cup.
"I broke my foot and missed the last six games of last season, and us falling short by four points, it was obviously disappointing," Wesley said. "That gave everybody a feeling to come back with passion because we have an opportunity to take another crack at it."
Now that Wesley and the Hurricanes appear playoff-bound again -- they entered Friday with a seven-point lead over Washington in the race for the Southeast Division title -- the thought of retirement is so distant in his mind he couldn't even come up with an answer to the simple question of "What's next for Glen Wesley?"
"To be honest, I just don't know," he responded. "I have three great kids (Amanda, Josh and Matthew) that are getting older by the day. My wife (Barb) has been a big pillar of support for me throughout my whole career. The toughest part for me is being away from them. For me, it's one of those decisions that play a big part in my future. It's something that you have to look at down the road."
Wesley, though, isn't ready to take a peak down that road yet.
Even for this 20-year vet, the consummate teammate, there is work to be done.
"I always say it's a family decision," Wesley said, "and it's something we'll look at it when I can reflect after this season."
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com.