Shanny's Irish dream

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Brendan Shanahan will be leading this year's Toronto St. Patrick's Day parade, but he has a more significant gathering o' the green in mind.

Shanahan, whose mother is from Belfast and father is from Dunmanus, near Bantry Bay, is giving serious thought to managing an Irish national hockey team in the next few years, as he approaches retirement. He would use his influence to find quality North American players of Irish lineage to accelerate the country's hockey development.

"When I've played for Canada, I've seen countries such as Italy and Great Britain and they're all using North Americans," Shanahan said yesterday, as he was named grand marshal for the March 13 St. Paddy's parade. "So why not Ireland? I don't think I would pursue it while I'm still playing (the Detroit Red Wings forward just turned 35), but it's something I've thought of spearheading later on.

"Right now, it has just been a lot of talk with hockey people over beers. But I would like to meet with Hockey Canada and find out what's involved in a program (such as qualifying for the world championships).

The Irish need a boost, now ranked 44th of 45 nations by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

They could use the Mimico-born Shanahan and Maple Leafs winger Owen Nolan, who was born in Belfast. Leafs coach Pat Quinn also has grandparents from that area.


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