Bonnie and Clyde, Batman and Robin, Ben and Jerry. There have been some pretty dynamic duos that have joined together to make a big enough impact in their lifelong pursuits – in these cases, committing crime, fighting crime or creating a deliciously frozen post-breakup grief companion with a clever little title – that they have become nothing short of globally recognized household names that roll nicely together off your tongue.
Now, I don’t want to draw any misplaced Shaq and Kobe comparisons, but the NHL has seen plenty of its own once dynamic duos ripped apart though trade, free agency, retirement or friendship-piercing personal differences, leaving their legacy as a powerful one-two punch broken and alone, just waiting to be scraped up and frozen over like a merciless Zamboni during the first intermission of an Avalanche-Devils game.
Like all good law firms with catchy names, we’re graced these days with high-impact NHL twosomes like Toews and Kane, Benn and Seguin and Sedin and Sedin that – save for the unexpected break-up – might live out the rest of their careers to become the next Jagr and Lemieux or Hall and Oates.
But time and again, we’ve seen fate intervene, driving a wedge between teammates with potential long-term viability and leaving little chance for a Gretzky-and-Messier-like reunification in the future. Here are 15 of those former NHL teammates you’ll never see on the same team again.
15 Cam Ward and Eric Staal
Goaltender Cam Ward and feisty forward Eric Staal were teammates on the Carolina Hurricanes for parts of 11 seasons and were the last two remaining players from the ‘Canes 2006 Stanley Cup championship team until a trade with the New York Rangers sent Staal to the Big Apple at the 2016 trade deadline.
The longtime teammates, still in their early 30s, have good history together, but since leaving Carolina and then New York, Staal has reignited the point-scoring touch he had lost in his latter years with the Hurricanes on his new team, the Minnesota Wild.
Assuming his career renaissance continues for the next couple of seasons, there’s a good chance Staal will take a discount to stick with a good Wild team as he plans for the ending stages of his playing days once his current contract runs out in 2019.
As for Ward, he’s got a pretty strict no-trade clause, and he seems to fit right at home in Carolina.
14 Paul Stastny and Kevin Shattenkirk
After playing together for a brief period in Colorado during the latter's debut NHL season in 2010-11, Paul Stastny and Kevin Shattenkirk’s teammate status actually was restored four years later in 2014, when Stastny signed a new deal to come to the St. Louis Blues, where Shattenkirk had been traded during that very first year.
Twice being teammates on two separate teams is fairly unlikely in the NHL, but three times is even less so. Now that Shattenkirk is off to Washington to contend for a Stanley Cup and then enter free agency, I would seriously doubt he’d want to return to St. Louis, where Stastny has a full no-trade clause.
The pair aren’t really connected in any particular way, but don’t expect the two-time teammates to make it three.
13 Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack
Four-time All-Star Roberto Luongo isn’t getting any younger. The 38-year-old who is still starting most games for the Florida Panthers is under a contract that will take him through his 43rd birthday, and I can’t imagine he’ll last much longer than that.
On the flip side of that coin, Eddie Lack is a skilled, relatively young goaltender who will be attractive to teams looking for long-term depth between the pipes when he hits free agency after next season. With James Reimer backing up Luongo for the foreseeable future and Reto Berra also available in Florida, it won’t be the Panthers who come calling for Lack.
Though teammates for part of just one season in Vancouver in 2013-14, Luongo and Lack struck up a tight friendship, but it will have to trudge forward without ever being teammates again.
12 Cody McLeod and Matt Duchene
Cody McLeod and Matt Duchene have been through a lot together on a bad Avalanche team over the past eight seasons. Until his trade to the Predators in January, the 32-year-old McLeod was the longest-tenured Avalanche player with 9 ½ years in Denver to his name, and Duchene was second, with 7 ½.
The two might have been reunited as they each hit free agency in the coming couple of years, but with the Avalanche surprising everybody by not trading Duchene, it must mean there’s a likelihood they’ll want to reward his loyalty with a sizeable extension soon.
Likewise, if they wanted to keep the gritty McLeod, they wouldn’t have made the somewhat surprising decision to ship him out of town. These two longtime teammates have played their last game together.
11 Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville
Like Stastny and Shattenkirk, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville defied the odds by twice playing on the same NHL team, but this story’s got a little more to it. Vanek and Pominville were first teammates in the AHL when they played in the Buffalo Sabares organization with each other in 2004-05.
They became good buddies, linemates and even neighbors in Buffalo when they both moved up to The Show and played there together for eight seasons. Pominville got traded to Minnesota in 2013, but Vanek ended up signing with the Wild two years later, rekindling the bromance a few states over.
But Vanek, now with the Panthers and his NHL future in doubt after this season, and Pominville, locked up with the Wild until his late 30s, aren’t hanging their hopes on a third go-around together. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
10 Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise
It always seemed like Ilya Kovalchuk never really worked in the NHL. Sure, he was a good player and even won the Rocket Richard Trophy with 41 goals in 2003-04 with the Thrashers, but you just always knew he would skip out of here for his native Russia at some point down the line.
Before he finally did, during the 2013 offseason, Kovalchuk teamed up on a line with young superstar Zach Parise in New Jersey for a season and some change, and the two made magic on the ice.
But Kovalchuk retired from the NHL just three years into the massive 15-year, $100 million deal he signed in 2010, opting to return to Russia. A year before that, Parise jetted out of town for his home state of Minnesota and signed a lengthy contract that will have him in a Wild uniform until he’s 40.
Even if Kovalchuk comes back to the NHL some time in the future, he and Parise won’t be making any more magic together on the ice.
9 Jordie and Jamie Benn
As much fun as it was, brothers Jordie and Jamie Benn aren’t the Sedin twins. Sometimes it seemed like the Stars signed and kept elder brother Jordie for the novelty of having siblings on the same team. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out on the ice as well as it did in the game notes and local bloggers’ storylines.
Jordie, while a serviceable bottom-pair defenseman, never really hit the marks to justify his roster spot in Dallas. He toiled in the minor leagues for five years before he actually made the Stars’ roster. And then, he was more often a healthy scratch than not. The 2013-14 season was his first full campaign with Dallas, but he still never posted better than 20 points.
Traded to Montreal at the deadline this year, the Benns are finally separated, and it’s doubtful either Jordie or any other of the 30 other teams will want to shove him back into the shadow of his superstar younger brother just for the sake of it.
8 Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle
In a trade that rocked Oilers Nation last summer, team captain Taylor Hall was extracted through a surprising deal with New Jersey not only from his burning bromance with teammate Jordan Eberle but from an Edmonton team he loved and had big plans for.
Taylor and Eberle were close. Their companionship extended off the ice and all the way to the home they shared, and as much as it probably pains them, it’s not likely they’ll ever don the same uniform again in the future.
Their similar styles and ability to make plays will be a hot commodity going forward. New Jersey will do everything it can to retain its strongest player in Hall, and Eberle’s youth will likely help the Oilers return to their championship-caliber ways alongside guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for years to come.
7 Jaromir Jagr and Matt Cullen
As old as these guys are and as long as they’ve been in the league, you just knew they had to have landed on the same team at the same time at some point in their storied NHL histories. Sure enough, 45-year-old Jagr, easily the NHL’s oldest active player, and 40-year-old Cullen, third-oldest on the same list, played one season together with the New York Rangers in 2006-07, during Cullen’s brief stop there between his two stints in Carolina.
With a combined 42 seasons of NHL experience on 16 separate teams going back to 1990, these old-timers are edging closer and closer to the day they finally hang ‘em up. With Cullen likely calling it quits once this year’s playoffs wrap up and Jagr’s future still up in the air, these two won’t have any more quick teammate sessions ever again.
6 Milan Lucic and David Krejci
Oilers tough guy Milan Lucic and Bruins playmaker David Krejci arrived in Boston for their NHL debuts at the same time in 2007-08 and ended up complimenting each other’s playing style on a line later in their eight years as teammates.
Together with Jarome Iginla, the three made up the Bruins top line in the 2013-14 season and had plenty of success as they led the B’s to the 2014 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated them in seven games in the second round, but the trio posted nine goals and nine assists during their 12-game playoff run.
Lucic ended up being traded to the Kings during the 2015 offseason and then signed a big, seven-year deal with Edmonton last summer that will keep him there through the 2022-23 season. Krejci, on the other hand, is locked up in Beantown through 2020-21, so don’t hold your breath for a future reunion for these two.
5 Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak
Not only were Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak teammates and linemates during their six seasons together in Toronto from 2009-10 to 2014-15, they were also roommates and total besties with a bromance rivaled perhaps only by that of Dallas’ Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin’s.
During those six seasons, the two were inseparable, earning themselves the nicknames Bert and Ernie among their Maple Leafs teammates. But I don’t think they cared. Their compatibility off the ice was mirrored on it, helping Kessel to lead the team in scoring in all six of those seasons, with Bozak never far behind.
The bromance was broken up in 2015 when Kessel was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, leaving Bozak behind in Toronto. Kessel is signed through 2021-22, while Bozak becomes a free agent after next season. So while it’s possible, it’s not likely you’ll ever see these two best buds in the same uniform again.
4 David Backes and T.J. Oshie
Notable U.S. Olympians T.J. Oshie and David Backes teamed up on the St. Louis Blues to help the club make the playoffs in five of the seven years they were teammates. From 2008-09 to 2014-15, the pair were two of the most consistent players in Blues uniforms and even finished as the top-2 scorers on the team in 2011-12.
Oshie was dealt to the Washington Capitals in 2015 and has since excelled in helping his new team become one of the best in the league and has set himself up nicely for a handsome contract extension this coming offseason. Meanwhile, David Backes signed a new, five-year deal with the Bruins last summer, and I don’t imagine the Boston brass is prepared to sign Oshie to a similar or larger one to bring the two back together again.
3 Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban
Drafted by the same team in successive rounds, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban basically came up together in the Montreal Canadiens’ system, eventually graduating to become two of the team’s leaders and taking the rest of the league by storm with their lethal offense-defense combination. In nine years playing together, they had ascended to the highest of highs and gone through the lowest of terrible lows – like the last half of the Canadiens’ 2015-16 campaign.
But during the 2016 offseason, one of the biggest one-for-one blockbuster trades in recent memory tore the close friends and longtime teammates apart, now separated not only by 1,000 miles but also a couple of Great Lakes and an international border.
Now with the Pedators, Subban has solidified his spot as one of the best skaters in Nashville, while Pacioretty has established himself as a likely long-term leader and captain of the Habs, so don’t expect these two buddies to ever share the same bench again.
2 Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg
Perhaps the greatest one-two offensive combination this side of the 21st century, either Swede Henrik Zetterberg or Russian Pavel Datsyuk have led the Red Wings in scoring in 11 of the past 12 seasons and finished as the top two Detroit scorers in nine of those seasons. Together, they helped Detroit knock off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals for the franchise’s 11th title.
Unfortunately for the Red wings, Datsyuk elected last June to return to his native Russia to play out the final years of his pro career, all but guaranteeing he and his high-scoring Detroit counterpart will never play on the same team again. And that’s doubly so, since the Arizona Coyotes now own Datsyuk’s NHL rights, and I don’t see the career Red Wing returning to the U.S. to play for lowly Arizona.
1 Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa
These two titans of the game played together with the Ottawa Senators for three seasons over a decade ago from 2001 to 2004. Then still in their 20s and in the early stages of their respective careers, the two parted ways in 2005, when Hossa was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers.
Over the years, the Slovakian superstars who grew up in the same small town in the western part of the country would land in other NHL cities as they rose to the top of the game, but they haven’t since shared a locker room. With Chara signed through next season, when he’ll turn 41, and Hossa locked in with the Blackhawks through the 2020-2021 season and a full no-trade clause in place, the only thing these two will share is the same block on the same street in their Slovakian home town once they retire.
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