I kind of missed the boat in terms of career eulogies for Brendan Shanahan on account of him choosing to retire during the busiest week of my life (See how I manage to deflect blame for it away from myself? That’s talent.) But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least make a couple of comments on the career of the guy who was my second favorite hockey player for the better part of my formative years.
I vaguely remember being upset when the Wings traded away Paul Coffey. I have no idea why, but I’m assuming it had a lot to do with the fact that I was barely 10-years old and not particularly bright. I do, however, know that I took an immediate liking to the Wings’ new arrival. He could score and he could fight and a few of you might remember the little-known incident in which he clotheslined Patrick Roy. At some point after the ’02 Cup, he became know as my alter-ego. It was mostly because I wore a Shanahan walking-jersey-foul to school the next day when we went around bestowing Wings players’ names on all of our friends. It was okay though, because I was Irish (I say “was” because we recently discovered that we actually have Scottish blood, not Irish…) and I embraced it. I still miss hearing the Irish Jig blasting from the speakers at the Joe.
How many guys left in the league could put it all together like Shanny did? Not many. And I think we’re all a little worse off for that. He deserved a better ending than his break with the Devils prior to the start of the season.
As far as the jersey retirement debate goes…I don’t see it happening. If the organization had any intention of doing so, they wouldn’t have let the likes of Derek Meech take it. I would have no problem with the team choosing to retire it, but I’m not sure he spent enough time in Detroit to have earned a place in the rafters. He played too many games for too many other teams, and even though his strongest legacy will be as a Red Wing, I think that’s going to keep #14 in circulation. That being said, I would much, much rather see his number on a banner than Fedorov’s. This post from Malik has two articles from the Edmonton Journal that sum up why.