by Ron Spence

I consider Jerome Iginla the best player in the NHL today – a complete player.

He can score, set up linemates, defend his teammates, lead, etc.

He follows in the tradition of Gordie Howe, Wendel Clarke, etc.

I think that one of the best ever – at playing this style of hockey – is New Jersey’s Brendan Shanahan.

He is durable (13th overall in games played), can score (11th overall), and set up (50th overall) – making him 24th overall in total points.

Before re-donning his old Devils’ uniform, Shanahan will have played in 1490 games and have scored 650 goals [20 goals in 19 consecutive seasons] along with 690 assists.

Shanahan also has accumulated 2460 penalty minutes. Brendan plays an aggressive style of game and can fight, taking on the champs such as Bob Probert and Donald Brashear.

He is number one – since the stat was first counted in 2007 – in Gordie Howe hat tricks with 9. Tkachuk, Iginla and Morrow are next with only 5.

But, he doesn’t believe in goon fighting. He told Gino Reda.

“I happen to like fighting, in the game of hockey, to a certain degree. I’ve never been a big fan of two guys going on the ice and starting a fight for the sake of starting a fight, and neither one of them are angry but they both feel that they’ll get in trouble or lose their jobs…but as far as two players, a player protecting a teammate, protecting a code for himself, I think it’s something that’s unique about hockey, I’m excited about two players who’re truly inspired to drop their gloves and go at it, like … in the Stanley Cup Finals when Jarome Iginla and Vincent Lecavalier dropped their gloves, that pulled me out of my seat, that’s not a bad thing, but I think that’s great, and if we just eliminate some of the planned fights or the staged fights, I do think that hockey’s a unique sport where we’ve always been able to defend ourselves, I happen to like that opportunity to defend myself or my teammates, and I don’t think that that’s an option that should go away.”

Brendan Shanahan is also a respected  leader [Stevie Y was Detroit’s captain, but Shanahan was one of their leaders.] and a visionary.

Shanahan convened a group during the NHL lockout to discuss the game and how it could be improved. The “summit” led to the formation of the competition committee, in which players were given a real say in the direction the game was supposed to take.

Shanahan will be embraced when he re-dons his Devils’ jersey. It will be a return to his roots.

His first year in New Jersey, the 18-year-old scored 26 points in 65 games. His second season – 1988-89 – he had 22 goals and 50 points, followed by 30 goals and 29 goals. He also averaged over 131 penalty minutes a season during his four years in the Garden State.

shanahanopcrccourtesy of

The thing to remember is that New Jersey has retired only two numbers: Ken Danyko’s and Scott Stevens’ – both hard-nosed work horses. And Shanahan fits into this mold.

Ironically, it was Shanahan who indirectly helped New Jersey to win their 3 Stanley Cups – after he had left the franchise.

In July, 1991, he signed with the St. Louis Blues as a Restricted Free Agent.

New Jersey’s compensation should have been draft picks, but the Blues had given five first round draft picks to the Washington Capitals after signing Scott Stevens. This was the previous year, and with no first round picks for four seasons, the Blues offered: Cujo, Rod Brind’Amour and two draft picks.

The Devils weren’t interested and convinced an arbitrator that Stevens belonged in Tony Soprano country.

Stevens, of course, went on to anchor the Devils’ defense for 13 seasons and 3 Stanley Cups. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) in 2000.

So, there won’t be any boos when Shanahan returns to his first team – the prodical son returns.

Even Rangers’ fans won’t boo the 40-year-old who Glen Sather wasn’t smart enough to re-sign.


  1. Talk about the last of the great power forwards. I don’t see anyone coming up that is an Iginla or Shanahan…the guys that can do it all. Rick Nash rarely fights and it seems the high draft picks are the guys putting up Gretzky numbers in junior. As usual, Ron well written and well researched.
    The Dawg

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