Most NHL players would like to retire at the top of their game just like Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings did after the 2011-12 season. However, that doesn’t necessarily come to fruition for many of these older players as some are forced to retire because of a serious injury while others hang their skates because their skills are dwindling. This year, the prolonged labor dispute between the NHL owners and the players’ union, the NHLPA, might prove to be culprit as the year-long layoff will be too detrimental physically for these ageing players who still have only one or two good years left in the tank.
At the conclusion of the NHL’s previous lockout that erased the 2004-05 season, a plethora of high-profile players decided to retire. Among them were several big names such as Mark Messier, Brett Hull, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Adam Oates, and Vincent Damphousse.
This time, which current star players are the most likely to call it a day and retire following a full-season lost because of the greed and cupidity of the owners?
Below you will find a list sorted by team of every NHL player (including unrestricted free agents) likely to retire in the event of a prolonged lockout:
Brian Boucher, G, 35 years-old
Milan Hejduk, RW, 36 years-old
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G, 35 years-old
Columbus Blue Jackets
Vinny Prospal, LW, 37 years-old
Adrian Aucoin, D, 39 years-old
Francis Bouillon, D, 37 years-old
Veteran defenseman Hal Gill on the lockout:
— Hal Gill (@Skillsy75) October 18, 2012
Chris Pronger, D, 38 years-old*
Kimmon Timonen, D, 37 years-old
Andreas Lilja, D, 37 years-old
Veteran left winger Steve Sullivan on the lockout:
50/50 split and honor the already signed contracts… Game on?
— Steve Sullivan (@Sullivan26) October 18, 2012
Toronto Maple Leafs
Antti Miettinen, LW, 32 years-old
Unrestricted free agents
Jason Blake, LW, 38 years-old
Mike Mottau, D, 34 years-old
Brian Rolston, LW, 39 years-old
Marty Turco, G, 37 years-old
Jochen Hecht, C, 35 years-old
Jaroslav Spacek, D, 38 years-old
Andrew Brunette, LW, 39 years-old
Brendan Morrison, C, 37 years-old
Sean O’Donnell, D, 41 years-old
Kristian Huselius, LW, 34 years-old
Radek Dvorak, RW, 35 years-old
Brad Lukowich, D, 36 years-old
Tomas Holmstrom, LW, 39 years-old
Ty Conklin, G, 36 years-old
Marco Sturm, LW, 34 years-old
Mathieu Darche, RW, 35 years-old
Jean-Pierre Dumont, RW, 34 years-old
Petr Sykora, RW, 36 years-old
Jay Pandolfo, LW, 37 years-old
Mark Eaton, D, 35 years-old
Mark Parrish, RW, 35 years-old
Daymond Langkow, C, 36 years-old
Brent Johnson, G, 35 years-old
Colin White, D, 34 years-old
Jason Arnott, C, 38 years-old
Kent Huskins, D, 33 years-old
Jonathan Cheechoo, RW, 32 years-old
Brett Clark, D, 35 years-old
Mike Commodore, D, 33 years-old
Dwayne Roloson, D, 43 years-old
Jeff Finger, D, 32 years-old
Mike Knuble, RW, 40 years-old
*The previous CBA contained a 35-and-over rule that states that if an NHL player signs a multi-year deal when the player is 35 years-old or older, starting in the second year of the contract, that amount will count towards the team’s salary cap regardless of whether the player is on the active roster or not (retired, for example).
This rule was designed to keep teams from signing older players to lucrative front-loaded contracts (also known as the Mogilny rule), thus saving cap room, in which the organization doesn’t expect that the player will actually play in the latter years. As a result, these players are less likely to retire in the event of a full-season lockout as their salary will still count towards the team’s salary cap.
An extended lockout will hurt some teams more than others, such as the Anaheim Ducks, the Dallas Stars and the New Jersey Devils who were counting on several veterans to carry them to the playoffs before the 2012-13. Other teams like the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets will not be severely affect by an extended work stoppage thanks to a younger core of key players.
Finally, just like in 2004-05, several notable players risk seeing their great career cut short by an extended lockout. Among them we find future Hall-of-Famers such as the “Finnish Flash” Teemu Selanne, “Mario Jr.” Jaromir Jagr, “Mr. Overtime” Patrik Elias, Jarome “Iggy” Iginla and Daniel “Alfie” Alfredsson as well as notable Stanley Cup Winners Nikolai Khabibulin, Milan Hejduk, and Tim Thomas.
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