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Veteran forward Brendan Shanahan, New Jersey Devils separate on eve of season @NHLdotcom

Veteran forward Brendan Shanahan left the New Jersey Devils on Thursday after being told he would not be a part of their top three lines this season.

Shanahan, who has 656 career goals, was informed that he was not in the Devils' plans on Wednesday and he decided to leave the team the following day.

"I have decided not to continue with the New Jersey Devils for my 22nd NHL season," Shanahan said in statement, adding the decision was mutual and amicable.

"When I signed this past summer, Lou Lamoriello, Jacques Lemaire, and I agreed that if we were unable to find a suitable fit in which I would be able to compete and contribute at the level I expect from myself, then I would simply step aside."

Shanahan, who will turn 41 in January, said he plans the spend the next few weeks with his family, a time he will probably use to decide whether he wants to play or retire.

Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said he was in the meeting when president and general manager Lamoriello talked to Shanahan.

"If I knew it would have been like that, I don't know if I would have attended, because it's hard," Lemaire said. "I've seen a few in my career, and the good people, it's hard to come to this type of situation. "

"Because they're good people and they were top players in the league at a time. So, it makes it a lot harder. I said, 'I'm glad you're the GM. You've got to make the decision, the final one.' "

Shanahan, who had six goals in 34 games last season after being a midseason addition, signed a US$1-million contract with the team in the off-season. He was expected to play on either the second or third line, and even scored a goal in New Jersey's 4-2 win over the Islanders in their preseason finale Tuesday.

However, Lamoriello believes youngsters Rod Pelley, Niclas Bergfors, Matt Halischuk and Ilkka Pikkarainen are ready for the NHL and decided Shanahan was expendable.

"Maybe Lou thought that they had a long chance to make the team," Lemaire said of the youngsters' chances at the start of training camp. "But these kids they've shown that they're ready to play."

A member of three Stanley Cup championship teams, Shanahan has played in 1,524 career games with the Devils, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detriot Red Wings and New York Rangers.

"This is certainly not easy from both sides because of the relationship," said Lamoriello, who drafted Shanahan when he was 18 years old. "The respect, the honesty, all of that has been put into this and these are the unfortunate things that do transpire."

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