Most professional hockey players don’t go out like Teemu Selanne or Wayne Gretzky, with tearful goodbye games. Most just fade away. Take the “retired or active challenge” to find out which players are still plying their trade, even though you may not have heard of them in several years.
The news that Radek Bonk and Miroslav Satan had announced their retirements a couple weeks ago came as something of a surprise: not that they were hanging them up, but that weren’t already out to pasture.
Bonk, 38, hadn’t played in the NHL since 2009, when he had nine goals in 66 games for Nashville. Satan, 39, spent the past four seasons mostly playing in Bratislava, a club which eventually joined the KHL.
It was a little reminiscent of when Petr Nedved materialized in Sochi in February. We hadn’t heard from him in North America since he played out the string with Edmonton in 2007. But he was plying his trade year-in, year-out in the Czech league.
It also brought to mind a line uttered years ago by one-time journeyman Greg Adams, in which he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Guys like Gretzky retire. Guys like me fade away.”
Thanks to the Internet and databases such as hockeydb and hockey-reference, it’s significantly easier to track the whereabouts of hundreds NHLers who do the Adams fade. At least, it’s simpler to find out when they were last active.
So I did a quick surf and played the “dead or alive” game; or more appropriately, the “retired or active” search? It was easy to get sucked into this vortex.
If you want to test your knowledge, here are 10 names to consider. Give yourself a point if you correctly guess whether or not they played in 2013-14. And chalk up a bonus point per guy if you nail the team for which he last appeared. Answers are here.
- Martin Straka. Drafted 19th overall by Pittsburgh in 1992.
- Vaclav Varada. Drafted 89th overall by San Jose in 1994.
- Steve Begin. Drafted 40th overall by Calgary in 1995.
- Cristobal Huet. Drafted 214th overall by Los Angeles in 2001.
- Steven Reinprecht. Undrafted. Broke in with Los Angeles in 2000.
- Sami Kapanen. Drafted 87th overall by Hartford in 1995.
- Antero Niitymaki. Drafted 168th overall by Philadelphia in 1998.
- Wade Redden. Drafted 2nd overall by the Islanders in 1995.
- Ville Nieminen. Drafted 78th overall by Colorado in 1997.
- David Vyborny. Drafted 33rd overall by Edmonton in 1993.