If there weren’t already enough sad and terrible things about the 2004-05 lockout, there’s the manner in which it forced dozens of NHLers from the game for good.
This year’s Hall of Fame inductees – Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis and Al MacInnis – all played their final games in the season prior to the lockout.
Stevens and MacInnis were forced into retirement due to injury. Francis was at the tail end of a spectacular career that quite probably was over anyway, lockout or not. Messier surely would have pushed on another season. He even considered as much after the lockout.
But what’s sad is these hockey warriors, and dozens of others like them, didn’t go out on their own terms. You can make the case it was the players themselves who didn’t make a stand against the inflexible and flawed strategy taken by their leader, NHLPA head Bob Goodenow. They chose to follow blindly and it cost them the ultimate price – their careers.
Nevertheless, it’s a shame there are so many players who saw their playing days evaporate as they read headlines of labor doom and gloom, rather than in the corners and creases of NHL arenas with their chinstraps done up tightly and their synapses firing and adrenaline flowing.
Here’s a listing of some players who didn’t return to the NHL after the lockout was resolved. Many had long, illustrious careers that were well into the ninth inning. Others had become fringe players easily forgotten when play resumed in 2005-06. Some quietly returned to Europe without breaking stride. Others were broken down physically and unable to regain NHL form after 16 months of inactivity. A couple – Adam Oates and Igor Larionov – were resigned to retirement regardless.
Players are listed in order of NHL service. Information in parentheses includes their age when the lockout ended, where they played during the lockout season of 2004-05, and final number of NHL games.
Vincent Damphousse (37, inactive, 1,378)
Adam Oates (42, inactive, 1,337)
James Patrick (42, inactive, 1,280)
Don Sweeney (38, inactive, 1,115)
Stephane Quintal (36, Italy, 1,037)
Murray Baron (38, inactive, 988)
Igor Larionov (45, inactive, 921)
Robert Reichel (34, Czech Rep., 830)
Scott Lachance (32, inactive, 819)
Rob Zamuner (35, Switzerland, 798)
Shawn Van Allen (37, inactive, 794)
Mike Eastwood (38, inactive, 783)
Trent Klatt (34, inactive, 781)
Donald Audette (35, inactive, 735)
Mikael Renberg (33, Sweden, 661)
Marcus Ragnarsson (33, Sweden, 632)
Valeri Bure (31, inactive, 621)
Drake Berehowsky (33, Sweden, 549)
Brian Holzinger (32, inactive, 547)
Alexei Morozov (28, Russia, 451)
Magnus Arvedson (33, inactive, 434)
Milan Kraft (25, Czech Rep., 207)
Jason Doig (28, inactive, 158)