Joe Sakic is taking his sweet time, trying to figure out if he can squeeze another year out of his body (and whether it's worth it, considering the off-season they've had in Denver.) What Sakic probably doesn't realize is that he's holding two fan bases in breathless anticipation of his decision: Colorado Avalanche puckheads who are quietly begging for one last run with the old band, and the nostalgic gamers who are wondering if the number of active alumni from "NHL '94" is about to dwindle yet again.
If you've read Puck Daddy, you know that we worship EA Sports' classic "NHL '94" like other tribes around the world worship an empty Coke bottle or a faded photo of Howard Stern. Kevin Schultz on Barry Melrose Rocks is equally as obsessed, and has a rather epic post today about the players still chugging along 14 years later:
There are still players in the league who were privileged enough to be a part of this hockey video game classic, but their numbers are dwindling. They're not exactly WW2 vets, but they are becoming increasingly rare nonetheless. Even the teams are vastly different. Three teams are now in different places and four were yet to be brought into existence (ah, the joys of a 26 team league).
Schultz has a list of "43 players who are still active in the NHL and a couple that are playing in Europe." Six franchises featured in the game no longer have any players active in the League: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals.
That's right: Even the Hartford Whalers (Michael Nylander and Robert Petrovicky), Quebec Nordiques (Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, Chris Simon and Adam Foote), Winnipeg Jets (Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk and Teppo Numminen) and even the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Sean Hill, hanging by a thread) are still represented.
So here's the question: Who will be the last player standing from "NHL '94?" Tkachuk is 36 and, assuming he doesn't chub up again, could play for another few years. Roman Hamrlik is only 34, so he's got some time ahead of him, too. Alexei Kovalev is 35 but he's playing like he's 16.
The answer is, of course, Chris Chelios. Because all they're going to find after the sun explodes are cockroaches, Twinkies and Chris Chelios on a treadmill.