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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Calling It A Career

When the off season began, no one could have predicted the amount of players that would be hanging up the skates for their final time. During this off season the NHL has lost two of the classiest North American players, and two of the classiest European players to ever play the game of hockey.

Of course the players I am talking about are Bobby Holik, Teppo Numminen, Joe Sakic, and as of today, Jeremy Roenick. All four of these men left a huge mark on the NHL and its fans, and I would not be surprised if at least two out of the four ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bobby Holik will best be remembered for his time with the New Jersey Devils, helping them win two Stanley Cups while being one of the top point producers on the team for ten seasons. After Holik's long stint with the Devils ended he tried elsewhere, signing with the Rangers in 2002, then the Thrashers in 2006. Holik would make his return to the Devils to play one last season. Even though he only picked up nine points in sixty two games this past season, Holik and the Devils were the perfect couple. It would have been like Mellanby coming back to the Cats for one last season, it's where he belonged.

Teppo Numminen had one very, very long career in the National Hockey League. He made his way around the Western Conference, playing with the Jets, Coyotes, and Stars, before finally signing with the Buffalo Sabres in 2005. He would go on to be a huge help in the Sabres rebirth, even if it ended quickly after the Sabres lost such key players as Drury and Briere. The worse part about Numminen's successful NHL career is that he never won a Stanley Cup.

Joe Sakic. What is there to say about him that hasn't been said already? He is hockey. He is one of the greatest captains to ever play the game, and one of the classiest guys to ever do so. I remember in 96, when I wasn't a huge fan of hockey, but I knew about it. I remember seeing Joe Sakic on the local news, raising the cup on the Miami Arena ice. Looking back on that day and watching the highlights of that game on YouTube, you just can't get angry at the Avalanche for beating the Panthers. Seeing Joe Sakic with the cup just washed all the anger away, and it still does. Of course it would have been great if the Panthers won, but I wouldn't want any other guy raising the cup for an apposing team on our ice. It is obvious that Joe's number will be retired and that he will be in the Hall of Fame in the next three years, and he deserves it for sure. Everyone thinks of the cup wins in Colorado and relates it to Patrick Roy. Roy may have played great, but without the leadership of Sakic the Avalanche would not have gone as far as they did.

And this brings us to Jeremy Roenick. Where do I start? JR is, and will always be one of my favorite players. I really think he is the reason I began following hockey full time. His charisma on the ice, his love for the game, and his skill combined made Roenick the perfect representative for the game of hockey. I remember watching a game on ESPN when JR played for the Flyers and he broke his jaw. The next week he was on with the TV crew commentating on the game. I thought to myself, how the heck is this guy laughing and chatting it up after getting his jaw wired shut? The answer? He's Jeremy Roenick. Like Numminen, Roenick never won a Stanley Cup, no matter how hard he tried. One has to believe though that JR will get a nod for the Hall of Fame in the near future.

Tomorrow I will be doing a more in dept tribute to Roenick, so check back here tomorrow for that and my top ten JR moments.

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