10 NHL Players: Put Away the Skates and Retire
10 NHL Players Who Need To Hang 'Em Up
The NHL can be considered an old man's club at times. There are certain players that tend to stay longer than they should. This happens in every sport. It was weird to watch a 40-year-old Brett Favre put on a Minnesota Vikings jersey just to stay around for a few more seasons. Seeing Michael Jordan put on a Washington Wizards jersey is something most basketball fans are trying to forget. You can even go back to Willie Mays giving up the black and orange to wear blue and orange. He was with the New York Mets at the end of his career. Sometimes the competitive nature of an athlete makes him look silly towards the end.
Hockey seems to be the sport that does this most often. Players continually play into their 40's, even though their skills have eroded to a point that they are just role players. You see players like Gordie Howe who played into his 50's. Something like that seems impossible today. You saw it recently with Chris Chelios playing in the Atlanta Thrashers minor leagues just to try to get one more shot at 46 years old.
There are plenty of older players in the league. The two oldest skaters, Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne, surprisingly did not make the list. They both showed over the past two seasons that they can still play at a high level. The players on this list are either hanging on for a cheap Stanley Cup, trying to make a couple extra bucks or just don't have anything else to scratch that "itch". These ten players may still have something left, but sometimes it just isn't worth it to see them play at anything less than their top level.
Martin Brodeur has shown signs of the greatness that made him statistically the greatest goaltender of all time, but he continues to get hurt. At one point in his career it seemed like the guy never even missed a week with injuries. Now, he seems to have a minor back injury and miss a month. On top of that, he doesn't play up to his former standards when he does return. With Cory Schneider in the fold, Brodeur should know what is best for the New Jersey Devils. Now, they have to go into the season with a 41-year-old starter and it is only a matter of time before he has to be in the trainer's room for a few weeks, if not months.
Todd Bertuzzi should have retired when he ended the career of Steve Moore. A promising 25-year-old, he never got to get back on the ice after the incident where Bertuzzi broke three vertebrae in Moore's neck. Beyond that, he just doesn't have the ability anymore. He only played seven games last season with a variety of ailments. He is currently playing for a job that is not guaranteed on the Detroit Red Wings. The team has enough age and have no need for Bertuzzi. He needs to put his skates up and end a career that was riddled with controversy. He needs to try and handle all the lawsuits against him anyway.
Ryan Smyth seems to have aged faster than any hockey player. He is coming back to the Edmonton Oilers to most likely be a fourth-line player. He scored a whopping two goals in the lockout-shortened season, even though he played all but one game. His powerplay game, the same game that put him into stardom in the first place, is no longer there.
At 37 years old, Smyth just isn't the player that got all those goals in the early 2000's for this Oilers team. If he wants to stay with the team and mentor the young players, I am sure they could find some kind of coaching position for him, but he just isn't that much of a contributor on the ice. He is still decent on the penalty kill, but teams can get that for much cheaper than, $2.25 million per season. It is time for Smyth to say goodbye to Edmonton once again.
Nikolai Khabibulin has been a very good backup the past couple of seasons. The problem is, if he is called upon to play more games than he is used to his stats go down considerably. You saw last season with Johan Hedberg on the Devils. When Brodeur went down with injury, fans thought they were in good shape with Hedberg. He was absolutely awful. Khabibulin isn't that bad, but will he be okay at his advanced age?
The Chicago Blackhawks are taking a chance using the "Bulin Wall" to replace Ray Emery, who was no short of spectacular last season. The team needs a guy they can count on in case something happens to Corey Crawford, and Khabibulin is not that guy.
Milan Hejduk may actually play a season outside of the Colorado Avalanche for the first time in his career. He has spent all of his 14 seasons with the same franchise, but now that franchise feels it could get similar contributions elsewhere. Hejduk is still a free agent and has shown no expectation to retire. It is sad when you see situations like this: when a guy just doesn't want to give up the game he loves, but there aren't any teams who want him. Hejduk should try to keep some of his pride and go out after a season where he couldn't contribute like he has before. It is time for him to say goodbye to the game, just like the Avalanche did to him.
This one sounds crazy. Nabokov took a New York Islanders team all the way to the playoffs. On top of that, he almost helped upset the top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. The team seemed to bring him back reluctantly after Ray Emery decided it would be better to go to the Philadelphia Flyers.
He has decent stats (.910 save percentage, 2.50 goals against average), but his defense will get worse with the loss of Mark Streit. He was probably the reason the Islanders didn't have a chance in the playoffs with his .842 save percentage. He just isn't as consistent as he once was. He is a below-average player at a time when he can't make much of a difference.
Jamie Langenbrunner has gone from a guy who was captain of the USA hockey team, to a guy who can't even find a job in hockey from the span of Vancouver to Sochi. He has not been nearly as effective since being traded by the Devils back in 2011. He is unable to get more than 20 points anymore, and lately it has been closer to ten. He had one point in four NHL games last season. He fought a torn labium in his hip. When you start having hip problems you are just never the same, just ask Alex Rodriguez. It is time for Langenbrunner to stop.
Ray Whitney made his mistake signing with the Dallas Stars. He is playing for a team that isn't going anywhere. He is one of two productive players, the other being Jamie Benn. The team traded away Michael Ryder, Derek Roy and Jagr within the season to completely bottom out. Whitney should have tried to be one of those players who was sent out. He is going to waste what is most likely his last season on a team that is just that, a waste. Unless he gets a trade, he should start working on the golf game and enjoy retirement. It just isn't worth it, even if he does like the new jerseys.
Jose Theodore has had an interesting career. He has played with five franchises since he left the Montreal Canadiens in 2006. He is about to add a sixth. There are rumors he will be going to play for the Boston Bruins. They are trying to get a backup on the cheap. Theodore wasn't even good enough to be a backup last season. He posted a .893 save percentage and a 3.29 GAA. Those are not good enough to be an NHL goalie today. That seems like a loss every time Tuuka Rask needs a day off. Theodore needs to know when to fold his hand, and it is time to fold this chapter of his career.
Don't get me wrong, Daniel Alfredsson is still very, very good. He may have struggled last season and his age may be catching up with him, but he is still a contributing NHL player. The reason he needs to put away the skates is he IS the Ottawa Senators. More than any player epitomizes their team, he was the Senators; He was more than Brodeur for the Devils, Alex Ovechkin for the Washington Capitals, or Sidney Crosby with the Penguins.
Alfredsson was a Senator, and then he was a great player. Now he is a Red Wing. Nothing makes sense anymore when a guy like that would move within the division (although it is a new division, but still) to try and win a cup without the team he has been associated with for the past 17 years; I would rather see him retire.