Brendan Shanahan didn't spend most of his career in St. Louis, just the pivotal part. Shanahan played as many seasons (four) with New Jersey, the team that made him the second player chosen in the 1987 draft, second to Pierre Turgeon. He spent the largest portion of his career, and the most competitively rewarding portion, in Detroit where he was part of three Stanley Cup championships.
But there seems little question St. Louis represented the apex in a career that landed Shanahan in the Hockey Hall of Fame. "This is where he evolved into a player, in St. Louis," said Kelly Chase, a former Blues teammate who remains close with Shanahan. "I lived with him for 2½ years and he evolved as a person and as a leader here. And he's a tough Irishman, that's for sure."
Shanahan joined defensemen Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer, coach Fred Shero and Team Canada women's standout Geraldine Heaney as honorees on Tuesday. Niedermayer, Chelios, Shanahan and Heaney were voted in as members of the Players' Category. Heaney is the third woman elected behind Cammi Granato and Angela James. Shero, a two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, was selected under the Builder's Category.
The voting is conducted by an 18-member selection committee, and the induction ceremony will be Nov. 11 in Toronto. Shanahan was in his second year of eligibility, while Niedermayer and Chelios were first-year honorees following their retirements after the 2009-10 season. Shanahan scored 656 goals and had 1,354 points, which ranks 13th and 25th on the NHL career lists respectively. He is one of 18 players to top 600 goals. He scored as many as 50 goals twice in his career - in back-to-back seasons with the Blues (1992-93, 1993-94). He is one of three Blues players to crack the 50-goal mark, along with Brett Hull and Wayne Babych.
In 1993-94, Shanahan had 52 goals and 50 assists for the Blues, the only time he exceeded the century mark (102) in points. Playing alongside the likes of Hull, Adam Oates, Jeff Brown and Craig Janney, Shanahan went from promising to prolific. "He loved it here, just like all of us loved it here," said Brown, now coach of the Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League. "We had a lot of fun in those early '90s years. We had great young team and then everybody just started getting traded and at the end of it, there wasn't anything left of that great nucleus."
Brown said "competitiveness" set Shanahan apart, and exposure to other young stars on the Blues propelled his game. When Shanahan arrived, Hull was the league's premier sniper, having netted 72, 86 and 70 goals in the three previous seasons. "This is where Shannie became the Hall of Famer," Brown said. "He was a great player in New Jersey, but he wasn't polished at all. But when he came here, I really believe that Hullie, in his own way, helped Shannie become a Hall of Fame player. "I remember Shannie watching Hullie and learning from him, just learning how to be a 'goal scorer.' The things he would work on in practice was the stuff Hullie would do. He learned a lot from Brett and basically that is when he became an all-around Hall of Famer."
Moreover, Shanahan's association with St. Louis is historically significant for the league and the franchise. In July 1990, the Blues turned heads by signing free agent defenseman Scott Stevens to a four-year. $5.1 million deal. As compensation, the team sent five first-round draft picks to the Washington Capitals. A rare combination of talent and toughness, Stevens joined Hull and Oates, and the Blues improved by 10 wins during his first season, finishing with 102 points and beating rival Detroit in the opening round of the playoffs.
During the summer of 1991, the Blues made headlines again by signing a 22-year old Shanahan away from New Jersey. The Devils offered Shanahan $700,000 a season; the Blues gave him a four-year deal averaging $1.25 million. The move promised to push St. Louis over the top to its first championship. In the end, the signing cost the team Stevens and might have stalled those Stanley Cup aspirations, hopes that remain unfulfilled.
Their first-round picks spent on Stevens, the Blues had to create a package of players and picks as compensation for Shanahan. Trying to protect their stars, management reportedly offered goaltender Curtis Joseph, emerging 21-year old Rod Brind'Amour and conditional picks. New Jersey asked for Stevens and when the teams couldn't work it out, arbitrating judge Edward J. Houston deemed the Devils' proposal more equitable. After one season as the Blues' captain, Stevens went to New Jersey and became the foundation for three Stanley Cup titles.
Shanahan scored 156 goals in 177 games for the Blues, then departed as shockingly as he arrived. On July 27, 1995, Blues general manager and coach Mike Keenan sent Shanahan to Hartford for 20-year old defenseman Chris Pronger. "He hated to leave," Chase said. "He couldn't believe it. Nobody could."
On April 14, 1994, Brendan Shanahan made perhaps as many fans as a player could make in one day. In an indelible sequence of events, Shanahan was high-sticked by Keith Tkachuk, who was playing for Winnipeg at the time. Shanahan went to the locker room, received 40 stitches, came back to score two goals in the Blues' 3-1 victory, and then wrapped up the day by walloping Tkachuk.
It turns out there was much more to the story. In a widely unknown fact, Shanahan was informed by a club official in the locker room that he was only a few penalty minutes short of becom-ing just the second player in NHL history to record 50 goals, 100 points, and 200 penalty minutes in a single season. Shanahan had already reached 50 goals and 100 points prior to the Winnipeg game, but he needed the penalty minutes to join Pittsburgh's Kevin Stevens in the league's 50-100-200 club.
The Blues were hosting Winnipeg in the final game of the regular season, and the result mattered little to the club, which was already in line for the No. 5 seed in the conference. In a scoreless game, a 22-year-old Tkachuk, playing in his third season in the NHL, caught Shanahan in the face with his stick. The mishap caused a laceration on Shanahan's upper lip, leading Tkachuk to the penalty box with a double-minor. "Actually, he was just trying to get out of my way," Shanahan said, who went to the training room for repairs.
As Brett Hull was converting the ensuing power play, registering his 57th goal of the season and 700th point his career, at least some people thought that Shanahan might not come back-not because he was badly injured but because the stakes were minimal. In the dressing room, Shanahan asked teammate Kelly Chase, who was not playing that day, how he looked. Chase replied, "More chicks for Chaser." Chase continued to antagonize Shanahan. "He was taunting me, telling me how well Tkachuk was playing while I was getting stitched up," Shanahan said. "And so the only reason I returned to the game-and this sounds bad coming from the job I have now [as the NHL's Vice President of Player Safety]-the only reason I went back on the ice was to get revenge against Tkachuk."
But before Shanahan would have an opportunity to drop the gloves, he had a chance to pick up the Blues. Alexei Kasatonov intercepted a Winnipeg clearing attempt and passed to Shanahan, who banged in a shot off the Jets' defenders for goal No. 51, point No. 101, and a 2-0 lead. Not long after, the Blues had an odd-man rush and .Shanahan con-verted a pass from Craig Janney for No. 52, No. 102, and a 3-0 advantage. "Actually, what's funny is, I was sort of disinterested in the puck, but the puck came to me," Shanahan said. "The first one, I shot it and it deflected off a couple of their defensemen and went in. Then maybe my next shift, I was out there trying to find Keith again and I found myself on a three-on-one and got another goal. "Guys were trying to celebrate with me but I still was not happy because I couldn't find a way to get on the ice at the same time as Tkachuk. The next time I saw him go on, I think Philippe Bozon was about to go on and I just grabbed Philippe by the collar and yanked him back onto the bench and I jumped over."
Finally, Shanahan had his chance. "I don't even think I took my gloves off," he said. "I just started to pound on [Tkachuk]. It wasn't a courageous or fair fight. He wasn't that interested. I remember everyone jumping into the pile and having arms and elbows rubbing up against my face, which was completely swollen." Despite Shanahan's intent, Tkachuk indicated that he was caught off guard. "It was an accident, but I know he was pissed off," Tkachuk said. "I just wish he would have grabbed me first and said something. But I have a lot of respect for him. He's a great player, and he was the kind of guy you modeled your game after. I'm glad that I was the guy he picked to get his penalty minutes."
Shanahan's punishment included a game misconduct, which gave him 211 PIMs on the season and put his name in the NHL record books with Stevens. As Shanahan skated off the ice, the crowd at the Arena roared and, already a popular player in St. Louis, his legacy was cemented. Ironically, Winnipeg went on a three-minute power play and Tkachuk scored his 41st goal of the season on the man-advantage, breaking up Curtis Joseph's shutout bid.
After the game, Jets coach John Paddock said that Shanahan should be suspended for the first game of the playoffs. "That's what I really hope," Paddock said. "A superstar can't be hit? It's a joke." Shanahan was not suspended, but he was forced to walk around with what he called a "duck lip." "What's funny is, Chaser was friends with [former St. Louis University basketball coach] Charlie Spoonhour, and a few days before the playoffs started, Kelly and Charlie went to some bar in the Central West End," . "Spoon was [talking about] the game [against Winnipeg], his first ever, and he just couldn't believe the intensity.
Spoon was saying to Kelly, "So, you're telling me when you went down and talked to your friend, his lip was split right open and all he wanted to do was get back on the ice and get into a fight?' Kelly was like, 'Yep.' Spoon said, 'How's he doing now? Is he home resting?' Kelly said, 'He's standing behind you having a beer.'" Spoonhour turned around and smiled. He and Shahanan also became friends, and the coach later used the story to motivate his basketball players at SLU. "Spoon would tell them, 'This 24-year-old kid is not only out drinking a beer, but he's holding the bottle up to his lip and using it as an ice pack. And you guys are crying about hangnails? I've got to introduce you to some hockey players.'"
|Questions? Anything Not Work? Not Look Right? My Policy Is To Blame The Computer.|
|Oneliners, Stories, etc. | About True Blues | Site Navigation | Parting Shots | Google Search|
|My Other Sites: Cruisin' - A Little Drag Racin', Nostalgia And My Favorite Rides | The Eerie Side Of Things | It's An Enigma | That"s Entertainment | Just For The Fun Of It | Gender Wars | Golf And Other Non-Contact Sports | JCS Group, Inc., A little business... A little fun... | John Wayne: American, The Movies And The Old West | Something About Everything Military | The Spell Of The West | Once Upon A Time | By The People, For The People | Something About Everything Racin' | Baseball and Other Contact Sports | The St. Louis Blues At The Arena | What? Strange? Peculiar? Maybe.|