Jaromir Jagr said goodbye to the NHL after 17 seasons, 646 goals and 1599 points. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
BY JUSTIN DICKIE
When the NHL begins its 2008-09 season in October, there will be a few noticeable omissions from team rosters.
A couple of surefire Hall of Famers said, “See ya later” to the NHL recently, while a few not-so-high-profile others will be missed, too. Here are the top 10 players who have said goodbye to the NHL this summer:
10. Branko Radivojevic
Arguably the hardest name to spell in hockey (he and Valtteri Filppula can fight to the death for that distinction), Radivojevic spent six seasons in the NHL with Phoenix, Philadelphia and Minnesota, collecting 120 points in 393 games. He’ll play for Spartak Moscow of the Russian League in 2008-09.
9. John Grahame
He was most useful as a backup goalie and will be remembered as such, although he did hold a No. 1 job in Tampa Bay in 2005-06, playing 57 games. You also have to give him credit for some of the raciest masks of all time. He signed with Avangard Omsk of the new Continental League.
8. Chris Simon
When Simon wasn’t serving suspensions, he was one talented tough guy. He played in 782 games, collecting 305 points, including a 29-goal campaign with Washington in 1999-2000. He’ll play for Vityaz Chekhov of the Continental League next season.
7. Ray Emery
What a fall from grace Emery has had. A year ago, he was backstopping the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup final. Today, he’s signed with Atlant Mytishchi of the Continental League and his agent J.P. Barry said there was little interest in Emery among NHL clubs. If he straightens out his game and can prove he’s not a distraction, maybe we’ll see Emery back in the NHL someday.
6. Mattias Norstrom
For 15 years, Norstrom’s consistency put him among the NHL’s elite defensive defensemen. He played 903 NHL games, scoring 164 points with the Rangers, Stars and Kings, where he was captain from 2001 until he was traded to Dallas in 2007. The 36-year-old is the first retiree on this list.
5. Glen Wesley
Like Norstrom, Wesley will go down in history for his stalwart defensive play, but he had some solid offensive upside early in his career. Wesley averaged 44 points per season in his first seven years in the NHL with Boston, before moving into a stay-at-home role with the Hartford/Carolina organization. The 39-year-old retired at the end of the season.
4. Martin Straka
Straka was one of the NHL’s most underrated scorers of the past 10 years and, if not for a number of injuries, he likely would have seen 300 goals and 800 points. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old will provide his offensive instincts to HC Lasselsberger Plzen of the Czech League next season.
3. Trevor Linden
Linden spent time with Montreal, Washington and the Islanders, but he will be forever known as a Vancouver Canuck. Despite never living up to lofty offensive expectations, Linden still managed 867 career points. He had an emotional bond with the fans in Vancouver and he’ll go down as one of Canucks fans all-time favorites. Linden retired at the end of the season after 19 years as an NHLer.
2. Dominik Hasek
The Dominator had a style all his own; one we never saw before and may never see again, because he was the only goaltender to ever master the fine art of the flip, flop and sprawl technique. Often imitated, never duplicated, Hasek joins Bill Durnan and Jacques Plante as the only goalies to win six Vezina trophies. He retired after winning his second Stanley Cup with Detroit.
1. Jaromir Jagr
Jagr played his best hockey alongside Mario Lemieux and the mullet didn’t hurt, either. He finished his career one point shy of 1,600 while collecting five Art Ross trophies, a Hart Trophy, two Lester B. Pearson trophies, two Stanley Cups, five 100-point seasons and three 50-goal seasons along the way. To emphasize Jagr’s dominance over the game, the 71 points he totaled in 2007-08 was his worst output since his 70-point, 48-game, lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. Jagr will suit up for Avangard Omsk in 2008-09.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on thehockeyenews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 10, and other great features from the world of hockey.