The NHL, like any professional sport, is a league that thrives on turning young players into marketable stars and while the likes of Steve Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and Tyler Seguin are looked
to as the future of the league; there are those who aren’t quite ready to give up the throne just yet.
Enter Nicklas Lidstrom, Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne; three superstars who long ago passed what is normally considered the prime of an NHL player yet continue to show no signs of slowing down.
Lets begin with the defensive wonder that is Nicklas Lidstrom; the seven-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings who at the age of 41 is playing in the 20th season of his illustrious career. As remarkable as it is, it is not even surprising anymore that Lidstrom remains one of the best defensemen in the league and the 2011-2012 season thus far has been no different.
In 15 games played the Wings captain is tied for the league lead among defensemen with six goals and ranks in the top 10 with 12 points. The off-season retirement of blue-line partner Brian Rafalski has put even more onus on Lidstrom to provide offense from the back-end and he certainly hasn’t disappointed.
No other defenseman in the history of the game has continued to play this well at this stage of their career. Championships and individual accolades aside, Lidstrom is easily the best defenseman of his generation and will go down alongside Bobby Orr as the two best to ever play the position.
While there was no doubt who would be wearing #5 for the Detroit Red Wings this year, things were a little different for the most famous player to ever wear the #68. Jaromir Jagr had spent the previous three seasons playing with Avangard Omsk in the KHL and at 39 it looked as if his career was coming to an end.
Not so fast. In a surprising off-season move, Jagr announced his intention to once again play in the NHL, but even more surprising was the team in which he elected to sign on with. Having spent the greatest years of his career as a Pittsburgh Penguin, Jagr spurned the Pens and decided instead to play with their hated rival; the Philadelphia Flyers.
The decision to return to the NHL and in particular with the Flyers has been brilliant. On a team loaded with talent up-front, Jagr has had no trouble fitting in and has quickly formed a dominant chemistry with budding superstar Claude Giroux. Giroux is tied for second in league scoring with 22 points while Jagr is not far behind with 17 points of his own.
The five-time Art Ross trophy winner might not have enough to win the award for a sixth time, but more important to him is the fact that playing for Philadelphia puts Jagr in a position to win his third Stanley Cup.
A year ago at the age of 40, Teemu Selanne put together one of the best seasons ever by a player 40 or over with a 31 goal, 80 point campaign. The almost unfathomable season had players and fans alike shaking their heads in near disbelief at how Selanne was seemingly the same player who broke the NHL record for goals by a rookie 17 years earlier.
A year later and a year older, Selanne is still showing the same speed and scoring ability that he displayed in 1993 as a rookie with the Winnipeg Jets. While last year’s league MVP Corey Perry along with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan have gotten off to a slow start, Selanne has picked up the slack offensively and currently leads the Ducks with 15 points in 17 games.
Although Anaheim will need those three big guns to get going if the team hopes to rebound from their poor start; it will be thrilling to watch Selanne for another year regardless if the Ducks are a playoff team or not
Lidstrom, Jagr, and Selanne. Three names that are certain to be enshrined one day in the Hockey Hall Of Fame…One day.
Resident of Windsor, Ontario. Extensive knowledge of both the NHL and junior hockey in Canada, particularly the OHL. Writer for THW covering the Winnipeg Jets and the OHL as well as covering Phoenix Coyotes prospects for Hockey’s Future.