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The not-so golden years

Tuesday, 05.08.2008 / 4:51 PM / News
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The not-so golden years
 
MONTREAL  -- To retire or not to retire. Judging from the smile on Brett Favre’s face this week, veteran NHL free agents may be doing the right thing by taking their time in making up their minds about their playing futures.

Ask anyone if they would retire tomorrow if they could and the response would likely be a unanimous yes. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the world of pro sports, where athletes are getting cold feet about their golden years.

Unwilling to make a rash decision about their futures - like Favre, the legendary Packers quarterback who recently took a mulligan on his retirement announcement in March - a handful of NHL players, led by Mats Sundin, are doing some serious soul searching before deciding whether or not to continue their careers. 

Thanks to a solid 2007-08 campaign, there’s no denying Sundin still has plenty left in the tank and he isn’t alone. Fellow proven veterans like Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan and Teemu Selanne are also without home addresses for the coming season with the beginning of training camps now only a few weeks away.

It may be difficult to imagine Sakic wearing anything other than an Avalanche/Nordiques jersey, but the 39-year-old is technically an unrestricted free agent available to the highest bidder. A slam dunk for the Hall of Fame, Sakic would be a welcome addition to any  dressing room should he decide to play for an NHL franchise other than the only one he’s ever known.

Shanahan’s multiple 40-plus goal seasons may be behind him, but the talented winger would be appealing to many clubs in need of a solid veteran presence. While many expect the 39-year-old to remain with the Rangers, he is still an unrestricted free agent without a contract, waiting by the phone.

Certainly no stranger to mulling retirement, Selanne pondered his future all the way into February until finally rejoining the Ducks last season. He won’t have that luxury this time around, but the 38-year-old winger will likely tickle the buying bone of several teams looking to add some scoring punch to their lineup this offseason.

After recently being bought out by the Bruins, Glen Murray is another NHL greybeard who shouldn’t have to go knocking door-to-door about his availability. While he may be three seasons removed from his last 30-goal campaign, Murray can expect his share of offers in the weeks to come.

Retirement isn’t something to be taken lightly in any line of work, but those in the twilight of their careers can take comfort in the fact that hanging them up is not irreversible. Just ask Gordie Howe, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Michael Jordan, Roger Clemens, Brett Favre or even Hulk Hogan and Jay-Z; everyone loves a good comeback or two.

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com