Philly Sports Live

Locking out the 90s

Being that I was born in the mid 80s (1985 to be exact), I got really into hockey in the early 90s.  Playing all the NHL games on the Sega Genesis with my best friends and family members gets a young kid familiar with the players we know so well.  I am a 90s guy at heart and always will look back at those years as the most fun I’ve ever had.  Sports played such a huge role in my life growing up and watching hockey in the 90s is what I enjoyed most. The 90s are long gone, but the beautiful thing about hockey is that guys can play in this league (the NHL) for 20 years.  If you were drafted at 18 years old in 1993, you would be in your late 30’s and still be able to play in the league.  Take Chris Pronger for example; if not for the horrible head injury he took last November, he would still be playing in the league.  Now, one week into the third NHL lockout in less than 20 years, we are faced with losing some of the greatest players in the game that are in the latter stages of their respected careers.

Nicklas Lidstrom, arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest defenseman of all time, retired this past season. Other players who recently left the game in the last few years have included Owen Nolan, Mike Modano, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Sakic, Mark Recchi, Jeremy Roenick, Peter Forsberg and unofficially, Chris Pronger.  That is just to name a few of the many amazing players who I grew up watching as a kid leave the game in the last 3 years. With this lock out in full force and the fact that we may lose another season, I felt the need to address some of the great players who I will most likely lose out on seeing play in the NHL ever again.

Jaromir Jagr- I felt the need to start this off with Jags because he just finished a season with the Fylers, my hometown team.  What a career this man has had.  He will go down as one of the top 10 greatest forwards to ever play the game. There was a time in the late 90s when Jagr was just unstoppable.  His size and skill out matched every player in the NHL.  The old saying was that Jagr could stick handle in a phone booth, and it was true. His first season in the NHL was the 1990-1991 season and he is currently 40 years old. He has played 1,346 games, and his stats include 665 goals, 988 assists for a total of 1,653 points. He left the Flyers and went to Dallas in the summer. I was upset by this move, but will continue to watch Jagr in the last season or two of his Hall of Fame career.

Teemu Selanne is the next one on my list. “The Finnish flash” as I grew up calling him. This guy is truly the ageless wonder. At 42 years old, he is still one of the top forwards in the league. Sure he has lost a little speed…not much, but he makes up for it with his knowledge of the game. Year after year he puts up 25-30 goals, and at the end of every season he says, “one more year”. His first season was in 1992, and if memory serves me correct, he won the Calder trophy that year and set a rookie record of 76 goals in a single season. He has a stat sheet full of achievements: 1,341 games played, 663 goals,743 assists and 1,406 points.  All I want to hear Teemu say is, “one more season!”

Daniel Alfredson, 39, and Jarome Iginla, 35, are two more great players who started their careers in the NHL in the mid 90s.  This is most likely Alfredsons final season and Iginla will have a few more solid ones.  They both continue to put up great numbers, and losing a year for both of these great players is just a shame. They are both closing in on 1,100 points and Alfredson could get close to the 500 goal mark.  Iginla should have no problem getting to 600 goals by the end of his career. Actually, with the way he is still playing, let’s make it 700!

Shane Doan, 35 and Ray Whitney, 40, are two more great players in the league who will be hurt if this whole season is a wash.  Shane Doan is the true meaning of 90s hockey. When I think back to that time, I think of the prototypical power-forward. The league doesn’t have as many as it used to; everyone wants to play the game with speed and finesse.  Doan on the other hand, plays the game the way it should be played, with heart and determination. He will go into the corner and work for the puck.  A true captain and someone who leads by example, he still drops the gloves when need be as well.  Ray Whitney, who’s first NHL game was in 1991, is still quietly contributing nicely in the National Hockey League.  To think, he has been in the league since before I was in the first grade, is just simply amazing. He has seen so many changes with the league over the years and some how, seems to always adapt and adjust to the style that the NHL is going towards. He just recently passed the 1,000 point mark and has another year or two left in the tank.

I figured I would leave this guy for last. A player who has crushed the Philadelphia Flyers year after year. A player who has won 3 Stanley cups in his career and let’s be honest, it was all because of him. A player who when everyone said he should retire, went out and took his team to the cup finals this past season. Yes, I am talking about the greatest goalie to ever play the game, Martin Brodeur. There isn’t much I have to say about Marty.  His accomplishments and resume speak for themselves. He has been the backbone for the New Jersey Devils for the past 20 years. He has made them, along with the Red wings, the best team in the last 20 years. Brodeur is 40 years old and has the most wins in NHL history, 656 to be exact. Martin Brodeur, as much as I hate to see him in net, should get one more season in the NHL.  He is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the greatest goalie the NHL has ever seen.

Here are a few other names that are potentially missing out on a season and can’t afford to at this stage in their career: Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St.Louis, Sergei Gonchar and Pavel Datsyuk.  Some are contributing more than others on that list, but all of them will be hurt by the lock out.