There's something to be said about the elder statesmen in the game of hockey today. The guys who are nearing 40 years of age, are already there, or have left that number behind are some of the most inspirational and gritty players there are. Honestly, some of these guys are willing their teams into the playoffs. Why do they provide this uncanny ability to seemingly do whatever is necessary to win? Is it because they know they don't have many years left? Is it because they want to win it all one more time before hanging them up, no matter what the cost? There are a couple of guys who have this heart, and this is a tribute to them.
Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers needs no introduction. The 38 year-old has won a number of Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, and is currently playing his in-your-face style on the ice of Madison Square Garden. Brendan is a goal-scorer, a leader, and is defensively responsible. These three things were evident when he missed a couple of weeks after suffering a concussion. However, now that he's back, the Rangers are pushing hard for a playoff spot, and they just might get it. Brendan is also known as a guy who can turn a tense locker room into one where players play hard. His sense of humour has never been lost, as seen below.
Brendan Shanahan does the "Ottawa interview" where guys in the Senators' locker room give interviews on stationary bikes. I couldn't stop giggling at this one.
Gary Roberts was brought in by the Pittsburgh Penguins to help guide a young team into the playoffs. The 40 year-old's leadership is unquestioned, and he has won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Calgary Flames. He brings grit and toughness to the ice, along with the ability to play in front of the net with soft hands. Listen to the announcers below talk about the value of Roberts.
Although this video end with Erik Christensen's highlights, the value of a guy like Gary Roberts cannot be overlooked.
Rod Brind'Amour was instrumental in Carolina's Stanley Cup run last season. The 37 year-old is the undeniable leader in the Hurricanes' dressing room, and always brings his A-game to the ice. Rod "The Bod" has been described as the "most fit player" in the NHL due to his off-season regiment, and is one of the most intense players to ever lace up the skates. However, he seems to be able to take a joke, as seen in the video below.
Erik Cole, Bates Battaglia, and Rod Brind'Amour talk about life and hockey with John Davidson. Erik Cole makes fun of Rod the entire time.
Can these guys make a difference? Undoubtedly. All three have won Stanley Cups, and all three have been captains of an NHL at some point. They can score, they inspire their teammates, and they demand excellence. I expect that the team that wins the Stanley Cup this season has one of this type of these guys on their team. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!