Rangers legend Adam Graves knows a great NHL player when he sees one, and as a monthly exclusive to Blueline, Graves will provide Rangers season subscribers with his personal scouting reports on members of the 2006-07 Blueshirts. These are Graves' own thoughts on these players - the kind of things he'd tell you if he was sitting next to you at a game.
In his initial report, Graves' takes a look at Brendan Shanahan, who was recently named to the NHL All-Star Game in Dallas. Graves and Shanahan go way back, having played against each other for many years, including two seasons of major-junior hockey in Ontario during the 1980s.
GRAVES ON SHANAHAN
Brendan Shanahan has had a lot of great accomplishments during his career. He's an eight-time NHL All-Star who won three Stanley Cup championships and the 2002 Olympic gold medal. He also won the Canada Cup in 1991 and was recognized for his off-ice actions with the 2002-03 King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
When I think about Brendan Shanahan, three descriptive words come to mind:
1. Leadership 2. Experience 3. Shot
Let's take a look at how each of these areas have shaped his career:
Leadership Growing up in Toronto, Shanny was usually the captain of his minor hockey teams, and he was later the captain of the London Knights in the OHL. In the NHL, he has been captain of the Hartford Whalers, and he has also been an assistant captain for most of his career, including his season with the Rangers.
Shanny's leadership goes beyond just wearing a letter on his sweater. He's a guy who's willing to interact with the media on a daily basis. He also takes time after practice to work with younger players on all aspects of the game. I have even seen him instructing Adam Hall and Petr Prucha on shooting.
And, of course, everybody saw what Shanny did in the Rangers' game against the Capitals on Dec. 30, when he fought Washington's Donald Brashear. He did that because he was standing up for his team, which is what leadership is all about.
Experience Just think about some of the teams Shanny has played on and some of the teammates he has had. In the Olympics and Canada Cup, he played with all the greats, including Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky. In St. Louis, he played with Brett Hull, and in Detroit he played with both Hull and Steve Yzerman. Playing for so many years with so many great players gives him a special edge whenever he takes the ice. He really has seen it all.
Shot Shanny's shot is his trademark, and there is a lot young players can learn from watching him shoot the puck. Watch how he finds holes when shooting from the top of the faceoff circles. Also, watch his backswing. It's very short -- no more than a foot -- but it's also very powerful. Throughout the season, we have seen how quickly he gets that shot off and how it takes goalies by surprise.
I think playing with Brett Hull in the early 1990s in St. Louis and then later in Detroit might have influenced how he shoots the puck. If you watch old tapes of Hull, you'll notice that his shot is very similar to what we have seen from Shanny this season.