For those of you who haven’t heard, Brendan Shanahan announced his retirement this afternoon.  This does not come as much of a surprise to anyone, but it certainly has made me reflect on Shanny and his time with the Wings.  I wanted to take this space to offer up my thoughts on Shanny and what he meant to me and to the Detroit Red Wings organization overall:

When Brendan Shanahan came to the Red Wings in the fall of 1996, I was 7 years old.  That’s right, I’m young.  I was 7.  Yet, I remember that trade like it was yesterday.  I remember realizing we had gotten rid of Paul Coffey and Keith Primeau, and not seeming to care at all.  For some reason, unknown to me to this day, I wanted to like Shanny…I needed to like Shanny.  You see, in the fall of 1996, I only had two strongly memorable playoffs runs to work off of: getting swept in 1995 by the Devils, and getting knocked out in the WCF by Colorado in the spring of ’96.  I was 7 years old, and I remember thinking, “We need this guy, now we can finally win the cup.”

I will never know why or how I thought this way, I was freakin 7 years old.  Most 7 year olds don’t know how to analyze the pieces of a team and what they feel will bring the stanley cup to their favorite franchise.  Yet there I was, with open arms, ready for Brendan Shanahan to be the piece the Red Wings were missing and to bring us the championship we so desperately wanted.

For the next 9 seasons he was in Detroit, Shanny became my favorite player on the Red Wings.  Yes, in the midst of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Darren McCarty and countless other Red Wing greats, my little 7-year-old self chose Brendan Shanahan as the player I dreamt of being one day.  I would marvel at how he could score so many goals and yet also be willing to step up and defend a teammate at a moments notice.  The fact that he would fight/score/assist and do whatever it took to win was magnificent.  Shanny was the definition of a power forward, and he’s done it better than almost anyone who has played the game.

I played street hockey pretending to have his one-timer.  I owned multiple shirts with Shanahan and 14 across the back.  I even created multiple email addresses that mentioned shanny, shanahan, the number 14 etc. when I was growing up. (You know what it was like when you first got the internet…all those crazy email accounts you set up and such…)

I distinctly remember my “Shanny-shirt” of the 98-02 playoff years.  I insisted on wearing the same jersey t-shirt for every playoff game and I would only wash it after a Red Wing loss.  It was my own superstitious little piece of clothing when I couldn’t afford an actual jersey.

I do not expect everyone to be as crazy about Brendan Shanahan as I was.  What I hope to accomplish in writing all this is simply to raise awareness of what an impact Brendan Shanahan had on me, all metro Detroit youth, and the Red Wings as a whole.  He was the missing piece in ’97 and ’98, and for that all Red Wings fans should be thankful.  He was a 3 time cup-winner with this organization, and he treated the city of Detroit well.

I know kids in metro Detroit today are outside playing street hockey, dreaming of pulling a “datsyukian deke” or being the next Hank Zetterberg.  That is wonderful, I know exactly what they are feeling.   Brendan Shanahan was that player for me, and for so many Detroit youth in the 90’s.  He was special.  I’ll miss having him playing in the NHL, and I can only hope he stays around the league.

Today, I still feel like I’m 7 years old.  As I hear about Shanahan’s retirement, as an NHL fan, I still can’t help but think the same thing: “We need this guy.”

Thanks for everything Shanny.

Assorted Videos:

This is how you defend your goalie and teammate (Against Bob Probert no less…)

Finally a tribute video (Not all Red Wings, but mostly)

For further reading and a bit more on Shanahan check out  Puck Daddy’s post.


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