SUN Hockey Pool

Shanahan going strong at 37

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

Brendan Shanahan helped changed the rules.

Perhaps it's little wonder he's prospering so much from it.

At 37, and in his 18th NHL season, the Detroit Red Wings left-winger is still going strong.

Shanahan has 30 goals and 33 assists in 65 games.

He's fourth in team scoring, and only Henrik Zetterberg (35) has more goals for the Wings this season.

"Brendan has a lot of pride and I know he's worked very hard in the last two or three summers on his conditioning," said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

"The new rules have helped all skill players and he's found a good chemistry playing with Pavel Datsyuk. But Brendan's one of the best in the business in being able to finish when he gets an opportunity, and he has been a big part of our success this year."

Shanahan is only one of 10 players to have scored at least 30 goals in 12 seasons. He also tallied his 100th career game-winning goal in January - one of four players to hit that milestone.

"He's got the skill and that's the main thing," said teammate Kirk Maltby. "He's worked hard, and on top of that with his skill, that's definitely attributed to him putting the puck in the net."

Also, as a member of the NHL competition committee, Shanahan was instrumental in bringing in rules to help open up the game.

FREE-FLOWING GAME

And while some veteran players struggled to keep up to the new free-flowing game, Shanahan has thrived in it.

"Maybe he knew ahead of time how to prepare for the new NHL," joked Maltby.

"But it's to his credit that he's adjusted to the new rules and the new game and things like that. Just when people start writing him off and saying he can't score, he comes up with a year like this."

Considering how long he's been around, its remarkable what Shanahan is doing this year.

At his age, most NHLers are winding down their careers and watching the point-totals shrink along with their ice time. It happens to the best of them.

Yet Shanahan has already surpassed his 2003-2004 point-total and needs just six points to surpass his 2002-2003 numbers.

"We expect him to score," said Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

"There's not many guys who have 100 game-winners. And the reason he does, is because he likes to score when the games on the line, that's what you need at playoff time."

Shanahan attributes his conditioning for much of the success he's had this year.

WORKING A LITTLE HARDER

The year off during the lockout also helped.

"Having a year off mentally and physically it was good," Shanahan said.

"But it also required some work. When you're not 23 anymore you kind of work a little harder to stay ready.

"I think the lockout really benefited some players. But you had to go into it with a plan. Not playing was enough of a rest, but you couldn't just be inactive.

''I think for guys who stayed active, worked out and stayed ready, it benefited. For other guys who didn't do anything, it kind of hurt."

And while another 30-goal season is nice, Shanahan is at the point in his career where teams goals are more important than individual achievement.

"I guess some people are surprised, but I'm just thankful I get to play on a team that wins most nights and has great players," he said.

"I think that when you're younger, you are so interested in establishing personal goals.

"And then you get to the point in your career when you really just value getting wins every night, and that's kind of what makes us happy in this dressing room."


Videos

Photos