News Blog: Players who should return to the NHL

Not only did 41-year-old Theoren Fleury return to NHL (pre-season) action, the wannabe Calgary Flame scored a dramatic shootout winner against the Islanders in his first game back.

Now that’s the old Fleury everyone was hoping to see.

And it makes one wonder: Which other retired NHL stars could, nay should, be working their way toward a big-league comeback?

Joe Sakic
It’s hard to believe Sakic won’t be in Quebec/Colorado’s lineup for the first time since 1988. After announcing his retirement in the off-season, Sakic is probably the last player who would pull a Brett Favre and come back. But after back surgery and a finger-hating snowblower limited him to 15 games last season, the longtime Nords/Avs captain would be fresh. For a 40-year-old, anyway.

Steve Yzerman
He stepped off NHL ice for the last time in 2006. But if the pressure of overseeing Team Canada’s entry for the 2010 Olympics becomes too much, Yzerman could always take a break and return as a Red Wings retread. He’s just eight goals shy of 700, you know.

Wayne Gretzky
Perhaps the absence of the Phoenix Coyotes coach from the team’s training camp isn’t due to the club’s ongoing court battle(s), but rather Gretzky’s desire to come back at age 48. If there’s any team that could use him (on the ice, that is), it’s the Coyotes.

Mario Lemieux
Not that the Stanley Cup-champion Penguins need Lemieux to score goals or win games, but isn’t it about time “The King Of The Comeback” returned to action?

Patrick Roy
OK, he’s probably going to end up back in the NHL as a coach. Maybe even as a GM. But how about another season or two tending goal, to try and take back his all-time wins record from Martin Brodeur?

Dominik Hasek
If Roy comes back, look for Hasek to immediately re-sign, too. He can’t afford to let Roy get too far ahead in the “greatest goalie of all-time debate.”

Gordie Howe
Yes, he’s 81 years old. Yes, he hasn’t played an NHL game since 1980. Yes, he initially retired in 1971, before most of today’s NHL players were even born. But he’s still twice as big as Fleury.

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Mats Sundin
This one isn’t a joke. Sundin should return to the Canucks, pronto, and prove last year’s plodding version was an anomaly due to his extended layoff.

Peter Forsberg
Last we heard his surgically repaired right foot still hadn’t found a skate that could properly support it; at least not for more than a few games. But that hasn’t stopped Sweden from putting Forsberg on its list of potential Olympians – and he has played a pre-season game for MoDo. And don’t forget, he’s still only 36.

Claude Lemieux
He re-retired in the summer after coming out of retirement to join the Sharks last season. But now it’s time he un-retires from his re-retirement.

Pat LaFontaine
Forget the fact he’s 44, undersized and has a history of bad concussions. This guy would absolutely thrive in today’s free-flowing NHL.

Ray Bourque
Hey, he was always better than Chris Chelios, plus now he’s more well-rested, too.

Bobby Clarke
You know he wants to get back into the game, just to teach all those little whippersnappers how you’re really supposed to play.

Jaromir Jagr
The NHL’s loss is Omsk’s gain. The temperamental 37-year-old superstar had three goals in his first three games as he kicks off his second Kontinental League season.

Trevor Linden
It’s an Olympic year in Vancouver? What other motivation does ‘Captain Canuck’ need?

Mark Messier
If Marian Gaborik goes down, the Rangers are going to be looking for offense. And their best option might be Messier.

Sam McCaig is The Hockey News’ senior copy editor and a contributor to His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.

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