Brendan Shanahan is the only NHL player to score more than 600 goals (656) and earn more than 2,000 minutes in penalties (2489).
He retired with 656 goals in his career, the second-most goals in history by a left wing, and 13th highest overall. His 19 consecutive 20-goal seasons are second most in history. His 1354 career points were the 25th highest ever at the time of retirement.
Add three Stanley Cup championships, a 2002 Olympic gold medal and a World Championship to his resume, and you have a case for Brendan Shanahan as one of the greatest players in hockey history.
Brendan Shanahan was a wonderful combination of skills and savvy packaged with grit and size.
At 6'3" and over 215lbs he was a brute who played his best when playing aggressively. But he combined that with soft hands and hockey intelligence not usually seen in the power forward mould. If he didn't bowl you over with his physical game he had the skills and smarts to make beautiful plays with the puck. This beautiful package of brawn and brains made him the game's premier power forward.
The only flaw in Shanny's game was skating. He was not very quick or agile but he knew where he wanted to be and more often than not he got there. He loved to set up just to the side of the crease, especially on the power play. With his trademark short back swing he swatted at pucks with his hard and accurate snap shot. Sometimes he would back off to the face-off circle for a deadly one-timer. More likely he would slide in front of the net to screen the goalie just as the puck was arriving. He became a master of tip-ins and rebound goals.
Shanny was always a shoot first type of player. But he made nifty passes that he never got a lot of credit for. What he did get a lot of credit for was his big-game play. Shanahan was a leader who revelled in playing in pressure situations. His intensity often set the tone for his team's night. For the most part he was one of the NHL's most likeable and popular players, but in a big playoff game Shanahan was the player leading his team into battle.
He was drafted by (2nd overall behind Pierre Turgeon in 1987) and started out with New Jersey, and enjoyed his best individual years in St. Louis. He also briefly played with Hartford and the New York Rangers. But Shanahan - who was also a heck of a lacrosse player - will be best remembered with the Detroit Red Wings.
Shanahan was the final missing piece to get the Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and the rest of the Red Wings over their Stanley Cup hurdle. With Shanny the Wings won the Stanley Cup in both 1997 and 1998, and again in 2002. Shanny, a feared fighter and a playoff warrior, was the missing ingredient in Detroit.
"We were always a skilled team and he was the big power forward that we needed," said Scotty Bowman. "He had great physical strength. He could score, he could fight and he could check."
Shanny's willingness to do the dirty work in Detroit really took Detroit over the top.
"He got a lot of respect; he could shoot and he had a temper. Tough guys weren't going to try him because they'd have to fight him," added Bowman. "He was perfect, because we were always a team that wasn't tough. He didn't get in many scraps while he was here because no one would fight him."
Shanahan holds the unofficial record for most Gordie Howe hat tricks in a career with 17 (officially recorded since 1996). In fact, if there was one player who might favorably compare with the legendary Howe, it might be Shanny.