Ulanov set to retire?

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Tick. Tick. Tick.

When the Edmonton Oilers opened training camp in September of 2003, Igor Ulanov didn't have a job. He'd come to grips with the possibility his NHL career was over.

With yesterday's announcement by Gary Bettman the 2004-05 NHL season has been cancelled, the big defenceman from Krasnokamsk, Russia again faces that possibility.

Like many veteran players, the 35-year-old Ulanov, who returned to the NHL with the Oilers for 42 games last season only after inking a minor league deal with Toronto of the AHL, has been taken out of the game. Maybe for good.

"I feel like 23, even if I'm older," laughed Ulanov yesterday, trying to find a silver lining to the end of what would've been his 14th NHL season. "But I am concerned about this. There are a lot of players who will retire."

NHL fans may have already seen the last of the likes of future hall-of-famers Steve Yzerman and Mark Messier. That will certainly be true if a new collective bargaining agreement can't be struck in time to start the 2005-06 season on time.

Ulanov, who has played 702 games over 13 NHL seasons, could be one of the casualties. He was signed through this season, a deal worth $750,000, but he'll be 36 next October.

"I'm willing to sacrifice my two or three years right now at this point for the other guys," said Ulanov.


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