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.
Though his NHL career would come to an end, Heatley still felt the itch to play, signing a pair of AHL contracts before heading overseas once again to play in Germany and this season in Finland. Sadly one has to wonder what could have been for Heatley if that dreadful evening in 2003 never happened.
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.
Unfortunately for Kariya and his fans, a number of on ice concussions may have led to his early retirement from the game.
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.
Five years and three cities would finish out Lindros' NHL career, with his last stop as a member of the Dallas Stars. Honored with seven All-Star games, a pair of All-NHL Team spots, a Lester B. Pearson and a Hart Memorial trophy, Lindros would finally receive a NHL Hall Of Fame ring this past Friday. But don't think that Big E has hung up the skates, as he still participates in twice weekly pick up games, while being heavily involved with his family, (including a wife and three kids) charitable contributions and concussion research projects.
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.
After taking some time away from the game, Roy would return in a front office and coaching capacity in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for eight years before making a return to the big league. From 2013-16, Roy would serve as the head coach and Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Avalanche, a position that would find a downhill slope, until the summer of 2016 when, Roy for his own reasons, would step away from the franchise. You just know he'll end up back in the game sooner or later.
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.
As one of the most decorated players for the Swedish National Team with two Olympic gold medals along with two gold and three silver World Championship medals, it's easy to understand the iconic status that Forsberg has in his homeland. With a wife and two young children by his side, Forsberg's playing career may be finished, but he still has a hand in the game as he has served as the Assistant General Manager for Modo Hockey since 2011.
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.
Selanne entered the NHL on fire as a rookie, netting 76 goals (the most ever by a first year player) for the Winnipeg Jets, immediately becoming a fan favorite. Sadly for those same fans, the Jets front office felt it was in their best interest to trade away their rising star to the Anaheim Ducks. Although he was initially disappointed in the deal, Selanne would soon come to love being in California, a place where he would spend the majority of his career. Teemu finished his NHL career with better than a point per game average of 1,457 points in 1,451 games.
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.
While his playing career was completed, Bure would still remain involved with the game back home with the Russian National Team program and most recently being named the Chairman of the World Legends League of Hockey. For former hockey greats over the age of 45, this six team league provides an opportunity to relive their glory, showcase their talents and give fans a walk down memory lane.
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.
Fedorov's success in both Russia and North America stemmed from his willingness and ability to be a two-way player (hence the two Selke Awards in '94 and '96). His 20 year journey through the NHL featured stops in Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus and Washington. Fedorov began and finished his career with CSKA Moscow (now in management), earning a spot in the NHL Hall of Fame and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2016.
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.
Aside from being an avid golfer in his free time, Modano served as an Alternative Governor and Executive Advisor for the Dallas franchise until 2015 when he stepped down from the front office position.
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.
Before he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2012, Sakic would play over 1,300 games, earning two Stanley Cups along the way. As a six time 100+ point scorer, "Burnaby Joe" would be honored by fans and voters to 12 All-Star Games. Following his playing career, Sakic, like many successful athletes, would be offered the traditional Executive Advisor role with his club before going on to accept his current more prolific position as the Executive VP of Hockey Operations with the Avalanche franchise.
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.
Following his retirement from the game after his second stint in New York, Messier would return to his hometown to work with the Oilers in an Advisor/Consultant role for the franchise loaded with lots of young talent, reminiscent of one that Messier started his career with. In addition to his work the Edmonton franchise, Messier also plays a role as a League Ambassador with Rogers Cable and spokesperson for Hockey Canada's youth program, The First Shift.
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.
While the Devils did try to bridge the gap into their future by bringing in Cory Schneider, the veteran netminder was still given ample opportunity to prove his worth, before he eventually decided to test the free agent waters in 2014. Signing a one year contract with the St. Louis Blues, it would be Brodeur's final season in the NHL as age, a decline in abilities and decreased minutes led to his retirement decision. Despite a statue outside and his #30 jersey hanging in the rafters in the Prudential Center, Brodeur has found his hockey future as the Assistant GM with the Blues franchise.
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.
Although the league would honor Chelios for his individual achievements during his time with the Canadians and the Blackhawks via the Norris Trophy, it was his tenure with the Red Wings that he would find the most team success, capturing a pair of Stanley Cup Championships (adding to a previous ring he won with the Canadians in 1986). After hoisting the Cup in 2008, Chelios would play one final season with the Wings, before a short lived stint with the Atlanta Thrashers prior to announcing his retirement in 2010. While his career on the ice came to an end, his off ice resume would just begin as Chelios quickly took a position as an Advisor to Hockey Operations and Prospect Development with the Red Wings.
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.
In his first year with the Red Wings, Hasek would backstop the team to a Stanley Cup title. A second season in Detroit was met with injury in which Hasek would suit up for only 14 games. Following a cup of coffee in Ottawa, Hasek returned to Detroit for a second tour of duty, once again helping the club to another championship parade in 2008. Leaving the game on a winning note, Hasek announced his retirement from the game, but in 2009 he would come out of retirement to play overseas with HC Moeller Pardubice, capturing the Czech League championship. Another season followed, this time in the KHL, before Hasek would officially hang up his goalie pads for good at 48 years old. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
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.