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Owen Nolan is retiring as a member of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, a fitting end to a storied NHL career. If you play the Jersey Game — clear your head, say "Owen Nolan" and what sweater is he wearing in your mind's eye — chances are you're picturing him in a teal jersey, unless your favorite team was one of his seven NHL ports of call.
From Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area, in a piece that argues if Nolan's number should hang from the rafters at the Shark Tank:
Nolan was a good servant to the club in his eight years. He bounced around after being traded to Toronto in 2003, and never quite reached the heights predicted of him when he broke with the supremely talented but oddly underfunctional Quebec Nordiques, but he was a good Shark.
You may argue if he is the best Shark, and that answer will doubtless change as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and the younger classes hit retirement age, but he is getting a reward for eight years (six full, and parts of two others) helping build a franchise, and being a credit to the club when it was going through its obvious growing pains.
He meant something special to the Sharks, but the Belfast native meant something to millions of other puckheads, too. Here are 10 moments that celebrate Owen Nolan's hockey legacy.
10. For Being At The Top of That Draft Class
The 1990 NHL Entry Draft was pretty decent. The players taken behind Owen Nolan, drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques: Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, Mike Ricci, Jaromir Jagr, Darryl Sydor, Derian Hatcher. (Yeah, we skipped Scott Scissons; what of it?) Not only did Nolan go first overall in 1990, he accepted this honor with a mane of glorious hockey coif.
9. That He Could Still Do This At 37
Playing with the Minnesota Wild, Nolan undressed David Hale and then beat Antero Niittymaki with a falling shot to complete a coast-to-coast goal in 2009 — a reminder both that he was an ageless player and a hell of an offensive talent.
8. That He Humored The Swiss
After his NHL options dried up, Nolan left for the Swiss National League A and the ZSC Lions Zurich where played for one season at age 38 — and, as the video shows, he took it all in stride.
7. Delivering Bodychecks on Goalies
Nolan was never shy about playing physically against any opponent … and sometimes that meant taking a run at Ed Belfour on the end boards to spark a melee. (Belfour and Nolan were briefly teammates in the 1996-97 season).
6. He Was The NHL 2001 Video Game Cover Boy
Yes, Owen Nolan's star shone so bright that he was featured on the cover of EA Sports NHL 2001. Alas, with that honor comes an unfortunate consequence: Nolan was a victim of the EA Sports Cover Curse. (His cover is about 1:30 into this clip, but check out the whole thing for hockey video game covers and theme songs through the years.)
5. He Could Throw 'em
Owen Nolan would drop the gloves here and there each season, but when he needed to his fists would fly like he was in a pub brawl. This bout against Matthew Barnaby in 1996 was a good representation of his punching speed and power.
4. His Superman Punch on Grant Marshall
Of course, sometimes the punches arrive in a much less gentlemanly fashion. This flying Superman Punch on Grant Marshall of the Dallas Stars in Feb. 2001 earned Nolan an 11-game suspension from the NHL. Why did Nolan get 11 games despite Marshall missing just one with an injury? His GM with the Sharks, Dean Lombardi, theorized to CBC Sports: "It's no secret that Gary Bettman has an intense dislike for Dean Lombardi, professionally and personally," Lombardi said. "Our philosophies on sport and player relations probably have as much a chance of finding a common ground as the Arabs and the Israelis."
No, seriously, can you imagine if any of this was done or said in 2012?
3. The 1997 WHC Brawl
That's our hero, right in the thick of things in 1997 at the IIHF World Championships. He earned a 1-game suspension for his role here, despite protesting "I've never been speared so much in my whole career, let alone one game."
2. The 'Red Line' Goal vs. Roman Turek
In 2000, Nolan scored what would be the series-winning goal in Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues with a center ice blast that beat Roman Turek, leading the Sharks over the Presidents' Trophy-winning Blues. One year later, Turek would have his revenge.
1. The Called Shot
Finally, the most iconic moment for Nolan and perhaps for the NHL All-Star Game during that era. Nolan's "called shot" against Dominik Hasek in front of Sharks fans in San Jose, in a game that featured the glow puck.