Fans of the NHL during the period from the 1980s through the early 2000s will recognize many of the names on this list. Some of the names, fans may have forgotten about and for better or worse have disappeared from the public eye. For some, they are happily retired and enjoying the fruits of their labour on the beach, golf course or spending much needed time with their families. For others, the transition from the ice to the front office was a seamless and expected move. While there are a number of players who have had the opportunity to play at the game's highest level (according to most), a NHL lifespan can be short-lived, but for these following 15 players, a mix of talent and good fortune led to lengthy careers.
Thanks to the Winter Classic and the Heritage Games, fans of these former NHL stars have had an opportunity to relieve some of the glory days of their favorite players, whether they appear on the ice or on the bench in an interview role. Many of the following players and their peers have used their finances and connections wisely to invest and develop side ventures in order to make the best use of their post NHL career and for some, welcomed uncommitted free time.
15 Dany Heatley
As the second overall pick in the 2000 NHL Draft, Dany Heatley would soon set the hockey world on fire. During his rookie season in 2001-02, Heatley would capture the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, tallying 67 points during the 82 game regular season. Teaming up with Ilya Kovalchuk, Heatley quickly became a star with the Atlanta Thrashers, dropping in 41 goals and 89 points in his second pro season. Unfortunately, guilty in a car crash incident in his third year, one that killed close friend and teammate Dan Snyder, Heatley would lose the majority of the season dealing with the more important off ice issues and recovery.
Following the NHL lockout the next season, Heatley would return from overseas, wanting a fresh start, which he would find in Ottawa. In his first two seasons with the Senators, Heatley would exceed the 100 point mark for the first, second and last times in his career. From that point on, Heatley's career on the ice would diminish as he would play a total of five seasons in the capital of Canada before requesting a trade, ending up in San Jose. Two seasons with the Sharks, a pair with the Minnesota Wild and a final NHL season with the Anaheim Ducks would cap off what became a frustrating and disappointing career for Heatley. While he wouldn't be able to add his name to Lord Stanley's Cup, Heatley would have success with the Canadian National Team, winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 2010 and a pair of golds in the World Championships.
14 Paul Kariya
The retired life seems to be treating the diminutive forward well. With nothing really going on other than surfing the waves on the California beaches, Paul Kariya is enjoying the fruits of his labour to the fullest.
As the fourth pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Kariya would head to Anaheim and would join his Mighty Ducks teammates for a nine year run that would end up without the holy grail of hockey, but in place a number of personal accolades. Known for his speed with and without the puck, as well as his knack for setting up his teammates, seven All-Star teams, two Lady Byng trophies, a spot on five All-NHL teams and two seasons of scoring over 100 points apiece highlighted Kariya's time in California. The 5'10" left winger would play six more years of professional hockey with the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues before finally hanging up the blades at the end of the 2009-10 season.
13 Eric Lindros
#88 was supposed to change the game. He was supposed to be the "next one." Had he stayed with the Quebec Nordiques, the team that drafted him with the number one pick in 1991, he may have found himself among the most popular Canadian hockey players of all-time. Instead, his refusal to play with the club that drafted him, led him to starting his career in Philadelphia.
For most of his eight years in "The City Of Brotherly Love." Lindros would team up with John LeClair and Mikael Renberg, forming "The Legion of Doom" line. While he had the physical size and tools to be one of the most dominating centers in the game, the off-ice drama and on-ice health issues led to Lindros falling short of expectations. Suffering from multiple concussions while in Philadelphia, the Flyers would fail to capture a Stanley Cup during the Lindros era, despite reaching the championship finals in 1997.
12 Patrick Roy
You know you are good when not just one, but two franchises retire your jersey. Add four Stanley Cups to that (two with each Montreal and Colorado), three Vezina Trophies, three Conn Smith Trophies, 11 NHL All-Star Game appearances and six All-NHL Team awards. Not a bad resume.
Hockey fans know Roy's famous departure from the Habs following a tumultuous run with coach Mario Tremblay, in which Roy felt he was humiliated numerous times during the 1995-96 season. Upon his trade to the Avalanche, Roy would immediately pay dividends, helping his new club capture their first championship. Seven more years and another Stanley Cup would finish out Roy's playing career.
11 Peter Forsberg
While the Quebec Nordiques lost out on Eric Lindros, they gained a future Hall Of Fame player in return on the deal. For eleven of his thirteen NHL seasons, Peter Forsberg would light the lamp for the Colorado Avalanche (formally known as the Nordiques). After being named the NHL Rookie of the Year in 1995, Forsberg would go on to capture two Stanley Cups, three All-NHL Team awards, the Art Ross and Hart Memorial trophies during the 2002-03 season and seven nominations to the mid-season All-Star Classic (playing in five, due to injury).
Due to the 2004-05 NHL strike season, Forsberg would head home to Sweden and play for Modo Hockey, the same club he started his pro career with before coming to North America. The high scoring center, who would finish his NHL career with 885 points in 708 games, would return for two more seasons overseas from 2008-10 before attempting one final season with the club that he started his NHL career with. Unfortunately for Avalanche fans, the triumphant return was held to only two games before the long toll of injuries forced Forsberg to step off the ice permanently.
10 Teemu Selanne
Fans of "The Finnish Flash" got to see their hero once again lace up his skates and participate in the recent Heritage Classic Game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers this year. After stepping away from the game in 2014, Selanne has had a hand in assisting with Finland's National Team in a Management Advisor role, helping some of his homeland's talented young stars.
9 Pavel Bure
Retired at the early age of 31, Bure's career was cut short due to numerous knee injuries and concussions that took "The Russian Rocket" from the game before some could appreciate his talents to the fullest extent.
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, with the 113th pick in 1989, Bure would become "Must See T.V." starting in his rookie campaign, tallying 60 points in 65 games, not to mention his rumored ties with the Russian Mafia and tennis hottie Anna Kournikova. Over the course of his 12 years split between Vancouver, the Florida Panthers and NY Rangers, Bure would score 437 goals in 702 games before nagging injuries would force him to leave the ice.
8 Sergei Fedorov
Currently the General Manager of CSKA Moscow of the KHL, former three time Stanley Cup Champion and 2015 Hall Of Fame Inductee, Fedorov has visions of returning his former club to the glory days that he once shared with Pavel Bure and Alex Mogilny. Once referred to by his peers (Steve Yzerman, Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque to name a few) as one of the greats of the game, even while he was still playing, Fedorov was the focal point for the Detroit Red Wings dominance during the late 90s/early 2000s.
7 Mike Modano
It's a shame when sports and business do not cooperate. For 20 of his 21 NHL seasons, Mike Modano was a key member of the Dallas (Minnesota) Stars organization. As a fresh faced rookie in 1988, the Minnesota North Stars used their first overall pick on the talented middle man from Michigan. As the all-time points leader by American born hockey players, Modano would put together a Hall Of Fame career that was highlighted by winning the Stanley Cup in 1999 and being named to seven All-Star Games. Falling just short of a point per game average for his career, Modano would eventually see his #9 jersey honored by the Stars organization.
6 Joe Sakic
A Nordiques/Avalanche lifer, Joe Sakic entered the NHL as the 15th overall pick in 1987 as a member of the Quebec Nordiques and almost 30 years later he his still actively involved with the same franchise after a legendary playing career as the team's greatest leader of all-time.
5 Mark Messier
Those who live in Edmonton and New York may consider Messier to be one of the greatest players and leaders to ever lace up a pair of skates. Those in Vancouver may have a different opinion.
As a six-time Stanley Cup champion, including five with the Oilers dynasty of the 80s and one in New York, which brought the Rangers their first NHL title in over 50 years, Messier was one of the most prolific players on either side of the border.
Retiring at the age of 43, Messier's career spanned 25 years, playing 1,992 NHL games (regular season and playoffs) with three different teams.
4 Martin Brodeur
As Patrick Roy was to the Habs and Avs, so to was Brodeur to the New Jersey Devils, a franchise goalie for the majority of his career. Although he had a bit of a slow start, Brodeur would eventually earn the starting goaltender job after two years of playing for the Devils farm club in Utica.
3 Chris Chelios
While he played a defensive position, Chris Chelios started his career as an offensive minded blueliner, for the Montreal Canadians, notching over 60 points three different times during his seven years with the club. A move to Chicago didn't stop his contributions to the scoreboard as the Illinois native added three more 60+ seasons for the Blackhawks before the 1994/95 NHL lockout season.
2 Dominik Hašek
In his social circle pick up games he currently suits up as a defenseman, but throughout his NHL and International career, "The Dominator" is among the ultimate puck stoppers the game has ever seen. Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks, Hasek would play the role of backup goalie for his first two years in the NHL before being traded to the Buffalo Sabers, where he would become a full-time starter for his nine year tenure with the club. It was during this span in which would be awarded with six Vezina Trophies as the league's best goalie, along with a pair of Hart and Lester B. Pearson awards in '97 and '98.
1 Brett Hull
"The Golden Brett" may have been born in Ontario, but as a duel citizen, Brett Hull committed himself to representing his American side when it came to the International game. While most of his career would be played State side, it was the Calgary Flames that gave the Hall of Fame right winger his start in the NHL. However his time in Alberta was limited to a season and a half before he was traded to the St. Louis Blues.
Individually, it was during his 11 years with the Blues that Hull found the most success, pocketing over 50 goals five times (including 86 goals in 76 games in 1990-91) and over 100 points in four straight seasons (he fell short of a fifth by three points in 1993-94).
From a team standpoint, Hull would not be in the spotlight as much during his three years with the Dallas Stars and three more with the Detroit Red Wings, but the trade of individual honors for a pair of Stanley Cup rings was more than welcomed. Hull would go on to finish his career with the Phoenix Coyotes, formerly the Winnipeg Jets, a team his father Bobby once suited up for.
Following his retirement, Hull would return to the Dallas Stars in a front office role, until heading back to St. Louis as the Executive Vice President. Away from the ice, Hull would team up with former Dallas teammate Mike Modano on a short-lived restaurant venture. An avid golfer during his playing days and currently in retirement, Hull has been well known to participate in charity and celebrity golf events throughout the year.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!