That is how Shanahan has played for 19 NHL seasons, but if it weren’t for Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames, he might be the last of that breed in the league. “Now, a power forward is a guy who takes the body and goes to the net, but there aren’t too many that will drop the gloves like they did,” Shanahan said Friday on a conference call. “I’ve always admired what Jarome Iginla does.
“He doesn’t ask for anyone to stick up for him, but he sticks up for his teammates. Like me, he’s probably been told by coaches not to fight, but I see something in him when he’s in a fight – that he’s having fun.”
Maybe Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes can join that list with his feisty approach and 19 goals this season.
But what is remarkable about Shanahan is that he’s still scoring goals and playing hard as he approaches his 38th birthday on Jan. 23.
The six-foot-three 220-pound native of Mimico, Ont., has 24 goals and 22 assists this season, tied for sixth in the league in goals and only four behind NHL leader Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
He is also the active leader in career goals with 622, good for 12th in league history.
His 18 consecutive seasons with 20 or more goals is only four behind all-time leader Gordie Howe.
“It had a lot to do with playing on good teams, playing with good players and having coaches who played me on offensive lines,” he said. “I’m not an an end-to-end guy.
“I work hard and go to the net. I need someone to get me the puck.”
As for trying to catch one of Howe’s many impressive records, Shanahan isn’t sure if he’ll try to match it, but he can see the allure.
“The hardest thing to do in this league is score goals on a consistent basis,” he said. “If you play long enough you’ll reach some milestones, but that one’s meaningful to me.”
Shanahan signed a one-year contract as a free agent for US$4 million this season and, while he doesn’t look close to retirement, he hasn’t indicated what he will do in 2007-08.
But he said he has “enjoyed every minute of being a Ranger.”
The left-winger was drafted second overall by New Jersey in 1987, signed as a free agent with St. Louis in 1991, was traded to Hartford for Chris Pronger in 1995 and dealt again to Detroit in 1996.
In nine seasons as a Red Wing, he was on three Stanley Cup winners, but now he is on a Rangers team that is in a battle just to make the playoffs.
“I find it exciting that every game is a do-or die situation,” said Shanahan. “It’s fun to go to the rink when you have those highs and lows.
“In Detroit, we weren’t in playoff races. It was a foregone conclusion.”
Shanahan was also one of the prime movers in the NHL’s decision to overhaul its rules after the 2004-05 lockout to open up the game and give star players room to make plays.
He serves on the league’s competition committee with league executives and owners that looks at potential rule changes.
He said a change they may look at is allowing teams to challenge some calls currently not eligible for video review, such as the delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone.
The Rangers were upset this week that officials made that call against Ottawa late in a close game, then changed their minds.
Shanahan wants to committee to see whether coaches should be allowed to challenge calls, but be given a two-minute penalty if the challenge is overturned.