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Brendan Shanahan announces retirement

by Adam Kimelman
Brendan Shanahan, who scored big on and off the ice during his 21 NHL seasons, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

"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," Shanahan said. "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."

Shanahan leaves the game with 656 goals and 1,354 points in 1,524 games. He's 11th all-time in goals and 23rd in points. He's also the only player in NHL history with at least 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes. One of the game's all-time clutch performers, Shanahan ranks fifth all-time with 109 game-winning goals. He tallied 237 goals on the power play, also fifth in NHL history, including a League-leading and career-best 20 in 1996-97.

"He was a productive guy," Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said. "He was a star. He was a star player that had different dimensions. He was a good person. He was looked up to and respected by his teammates."

Shanahan's greatest on-ice success came during his nine seasons with the Red Wings. He played at least 75 games each season, scored at least 30 goals seven times and more than 40 goals three times. He also won his three Stanley Cups, in 1997, '98 and 2002. In 1997, Shanahan placed second on the Red Wings in playoff scoring with 9 goals and 8 assists for 17 points while helping lead Detroit to its first Stanley Cup in 42 years. In 2002, he ranked second on the team and tied for third in the NHL with 19 points in 23 games, helping lead the Red Wings to their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.

"He became a big part of the team," Scotty Bowman, who traded for Shanahan when he was Detroit's GM, told "We were always a skilled team and he was a power forward, physical, great strength. He could score, fight and check. … He was a great fit for our team."

When Shanahan arrived in Detroit, however, it had been 42 years since the club had won the Stanley Cup. Eight months later, the Cup was being paraded around downtown Detroit.

"Definitely he was the missing piece," Bowman said.

"There weren't a lot of the players in the game that were big and strong and could score and was tough," Holland said. "You had a guy on your team that's a physical presence with a scoring touch. … He could go in to the hard areas, he had a weapon of a shot. He provided a lot of different dimensions. I think that's what special players do, they provide more than one dimension."

One of those was handling the off-ice distractions that come from playing in a puck-centric place like "Hockeytown."

"When we got him, it was a media blitz here," Holland said "Not only was he a leader in the locker room because he could score, because he was tough, but he also was comfortable with the media. He took pressure of guys that maybe weren't as comfortable with the media."

Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille was Shanahan's teammate in Detroit.

"Shanny was a great player, a great clutch performer and a great teammate," Robitaille said. "He was always such a physical player, but had such amazing hands. He had such a huge impact on me when I was in Detroit and we won the Cup together. To this day, he is still one of my good friends. The game is going to miss a player of his caliber ... I just want to congratulate him on his amazing career."

Shanahan enjoyed his finest single offensive season in 1993-94 with the St. Louis Blues, when he established career highs in goals (52), assists (50), points (102), penalty minutes (211) and shots (397).

Appearing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 19 of his 21 seasons, Shanahan ranks 35th on the NHL’s playoff scoring list with 134 points in 184 games. He ranks seventh with a plus-31 rating, tied for 19th with 12 game-winning goals and is tied for 27th with 60 goals.

Internationally, Shanahan represented Canada in several tournaments. He is one of only 22 players -- one of only four Canadians -- in the exclusive "triple gold" club, which includes those who have won the Stanley Cup and captured gold at the Olympics and IIHF World Championships.

Shanahan led Team Canada to its first World Championship in 33 years in 1994, placing second on the team in scoring with 7 points in six games. He was a member of the 1991 Canada Cup Championship squad, Canada's fifth and final Canada Cup title team. The two-time Olympian represented Canada in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, and then helped Canada capture its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Shanahan then became only the third player in NHL history to win an Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup championship in the same year when the Red Wings captured the Stanley Cup in June of 2002. Additionally, Shanahan represented Canada in the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996.

Throughout his career, Shanahan was always one of the League’s top ambassadors. He was awarded the King Clancy Trophy in 2003 for his exemplary work in the community. But Shanahan's ultimate legacy will be how he helped lead the game coming out of the labor stoppage that forced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.

His "Shanahan Summit" brought together some of the best and brightest minds of the game from both sides of the player/management debate. A number of philosophical and rules changes came about, leading to the way the game is played today, from tighter enforcement of obstruction-type fouls to the trapezoid behind the goals.

Holland said Shanahan's efforts are part of what have made the game as open and entertaining as it is today.

"I think the game is as good now as it ever has been in the form of speed and skill and the rules that allow the players to play, the rules that allow the game to be entertaining for the fans," Holland told "Some of the suggestions they made coming out of that summit are things that have been implemented into the Gary Bettman/Colin Campbell rules package that really has opened up the game."

Added Colin, Campbell, the NHL's Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations: "It will be great for us at Hockey Operations to lean on a player of Brendan's experience. He played the game every way it could be played and has the respect of all our players because of that."

The second pick of the 1987 Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Shanahan also played for the Blues, Hartford Whalers, Red Wings and New York Rangers during his career.

After four seasons with New Jersey, he signed with St. Louis following the 1990-91 season as a free agent; as compensation, the Devils were awarded defenseman Scott Stevens. Shanahan twice scored 50 goals in four seasons with the Blues, and then was traded to Hartford following the 1994-95 season, in exchange for defenseman Chris Pronger. Shanahan spent just one full season with the Whalers, and then was dealt to the Red Wings two games into the 1996-97 season.

He signed with the Rangers prior to the start of the 2006-07 season, and spent two seasons on Broadway.

Shanahan last played in the NHL last season, signing with Devils midway through the season and finishing with 6 goals and 14 points in 34 games. He re-signed with the Devils over the summer, but left the team during training camp when he and coach Jacques Lemaire couldn't come to an agreement on what Shanahan's role on the club would be.

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