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