<table width=80% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>When it comes to the (less than) graceful retirement of athletes, I’m beginning to think we should institute a “Logan’s Run” policy.
I realize that today’s very fit players can stay in the game longer than their brethren of yore. But no matter how hard you work out in the summer, you cannot stop time. And just because you can play doesn’t mean you should. When your teammates are younger than your kids, it is time to give your head a shake. Chris Chelios, if your flashing red palm crystal didn’t tip you off, not dressing for a single game in the Stanley Cup final should have.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/08/aug0608_favre_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>Brett Favre, you have made the money, set the records, won the big prize, and most importantly had the teary media farewell. The team was preparing to throw an epic Number 4 retirement party, where you and everyone else could bask in the outpouring of love, gratitude and nostalgia. Your awkward reappearance on the sidelines does nobody any good. Even if you triumph in Tampa, you have merely delayed the inevitable for a year or so and you have at least dented your legacy with the Packers.
It’s tough to give up the sport that has been your dearest dream, your livelihood and the thing that defines you. Going from adored star with an impressive salary to an anonymous management suit or small business owner with a real-world paycheque surely sucks. But it’s the Circle of Life, Simba. Get over it already. Players certainly have enough cash to hire a life coach to help them take the next step. And they are unlikely to get a great deal of sympathy from the wage slaves who cheer for them and have undoubtedly changed jobs and careers plenty of times themselves.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/08/aug0608_bourque_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>It must be infinitely harder to leave before you win a championship. How much nicer to have the Ray Bourque exit – leaving on the highest of high notes. Difficult it may have been, but our own Trevor seems to have managed it properly. And I still have hope that some great day his name will be etched on Lord Stanley’s mug as part of a winning team.
But what if you haven’t won it all, and you’re still pretty much on top of your game? Which brings us, as everything seems to these days, to the burning question of the off-season. Is it sundown for Sundin? Is he going to retire this week? Or will he wake up Friday morning as if from a dream, smack his forehead (there appears to be plenty to smack) and announce: “D’oh!! What was I thinking? Retire? I haven’t won anything yet! Oh and I left all those hardworking Canucks employees and loyal hockey fans in Vancouver dangling for months. After they offered me all that lovely money, too. That probably seems a little rude. Of course I would be delighted to sign the deal”.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/images/upload/2008/07/07_matsSunding.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>Perhaps Mats would like to wait until 2009, choose the team with the best chance for victory and offer his services. Scott Niedermayer took half a season off to ponder retirement, but that was only after he led his team to a championship. And frankly, Scott has so many Stanley Cup rings it must take a mighty effort just to hail a taxi. So I can understand cutting him some slack while he weighed his options. Still, this year the Ducks leaned on him not to do it again. This is, after all, a TEAM game.
So, c’mon Mats. I’ve always liked the way you play. It would be great to see you here. You’d love the city and goalie and for a change, you’d like the defense too. With you in the lineup we start to look like a bit of a winner. You’d be a local hero before you even stepped off the plane. Make our day and our year. Tire of retiring and just say yes.</td></tr></table>