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Penguins interested in Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello


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title: ‘Jaromir Jagr’,
description: ‘

We are left to wonder where Jagr’s career numbers would be if he hadn’t taken those years off from the NHL to play in the KHL, but the legendary Czech forward didn’t shortchange himself. He played until he was 45, and so perhaps it isn’t surprising that his last year was something of a thud. Jagr left Florida for Calgary but appeared in only 22 games, notching a mere one goal and six assists.

Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

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title: ‘Mario Lemieux’,
description: ‘

Injuries and illness occasionally took Lemieux down, but never for long. That is, until the end of his career. Lemieux was still a Penguin after the season that was lost to the lockout, and some people got excited at the idea of Super Mario playing alongside his heir apparent, Sidney Crosby. Alas, Lemieux played only 26 games before hanging up his skates. However, he did manage 22 points in that time.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

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title: ‘Gordie Howe’,
description: ‘

We aren’t counting the one shift Howe played with the IHL’s Detroit Vipers so that he could say he had played a professional hockey game in the ‘90s. After several years in the WHA, Mr. Hockey returned to the NHL with the Hartford Whalers. Somehow, despite being in his 50s, he scored 15 goals and added 26 assists.

Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

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title: ‘Mark Messier’,
description: ‘

Messier stuck around longer than his longtime Oiler teammate Gretzky, as he was playing all the way until the 2003-04 season. After a few years in Vancouver, Messier returned to the Rangers for four seasons, culminating in a season in which he scored 18 goals. What Messier couldn’t do, though, was get the Rangers back to the playoffs in any of those four years.

Dave Sandford/Getty Images

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title: ‘Brett Hull’,
description: ‘

Hull is a classic case of a guy who hung on just a little too long. In the final season before the lockout, Hull scored 25 goals. He could have retired there, but he decided to give it a go after the lockout ended. Bobby’s son headed out to Phoenix, which feels fitting, given Arizona is a frequent destination for retirees. Hull managed one point, an assist, in five games.

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

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title: ‘Marcel Dionne’,
description: ‘

Dionne is a bit overlooked, given that he was the last person to win an Art Ross for years not named Gretzky, Lemieux or Jagr. The Hall of Famer finished his career with 731 goals, which was third most behind Howe and the Great One for a long time. It seemed like he was still going strong in his penultimate season, as he notched 31 goals in 67 games. Then, one season later, he had seven in 37 games and promptly retired.

Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

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title: ‘Maurice Richard’,
description: ‘

Rocket Richard was the first player to ever score 50 goals. He won eight Cups in Montreal and retired as the greatest legend in the history of the Canadiens. That includes winning a Cup in his final season, when he had lost a step but was still able to contribute. Richard managed 35 points in 51 games as a 38-year-old before adding four more points in eight playoff games.

Robert Riger/Getty Images

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title: ‘Steve Yzerman’,
description: ‘

Like Richard, Yzerman was a one-franchise guy, leading the Red Wings as their captain to their first Cup in over 40 year. Stevie Y is another player who retired the season after the lockout. However, he looked better than some of his compatriots, as he had 34 points in 61 games before  passing the torch to the generation of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

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title: ‘Joe Sakic’,
description: ‘

Two seasons before he retired, Sakic notched 100 points and played in every game. The next year, injury limited him to 44 games, but he tallied 40 points and then added 10 more in 10 playoff contests. Alas, in his final season injuries finally cut him down. He could play in only 15 games, and while he managed 12 points it was still an unfortunate end to a great career.

Garrett Ellwood/NHLImages

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title: ‘Luc Robitaille’,
description: ‘

Unlike the last few players, Robitaille bounced around from team to team in his career. Like many players on this list, he retired after the post-lockout season as well. Lucky Luc had rejoined the Kings the season prior to the lost year, and he stuck around to tally 15 goals and 24 points in 65 games.

Kirby Lee/NHLImages

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title: ‘Teemu Selanne’,
description: ‘

Selanne began his career by scoring a whopping 76 goals as a rookie in Winnipeg. However, the Finnish Flash is best remembered as a Duck, as he spent his final nine seasons with Anaheim. His last year was mostly a farewell tour, with the once-great scorer managing only nine of his career 684 goals that season.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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title: ‘Phil Esposito’,
description: ‘

For a guy who retired at the beginning of the ‘80s, it’s impressive that Esposito still ranks in the top 10 in career goals and points. While people remember him as a Bruin, he actually ended his career as a Ranger. He had four really impressive years in New York, scored at least 78 points in each campaign but then got a reality check in his final season. As a 38-year-old, Espo scored only seven goals and 20 points.

Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

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title: ‘Brendan Shanahan’,
description: ‘

As a rookie, Shanahan scored seven goals as a New Jersey Devil. He then bounced around the league, enjoying most of his success with the Red Wings juggernaut of the late ‘90s/early 2000s. Then he went back to the Devils for one last season, where he scored six goals. Talk about the circle of life.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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title: ‘Mike Modano’,
description: ‘

Modano is the highest-scoring American player of all time and spent almost his entire career with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars. However, instead of being a one-team guy, Modano decided to move to his hometown Detroit Red Wings. It wasn’t the homecoming anybody was hoping for, as Modano managed a mere four goals in 40 games.

Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

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title: ‘Nicklas Lidstrom’,
description: ‘

Here’s a player who had much more success in Detroit than Modano did. Lidstrom, the best defenseman of his generation, spent his entire career with the Wings, taking over as captain when Steve Yzerman retired. And he was good until the very end. His second-to-last season he won a Norris, and in his final season he finished fifth in the voting for that award. Had he played in more than 70 games, he could have done even better. Still, his 34 points showed that he could have kept playing, but Lidstrom wanted to spend more time with his family in Sweden.

John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

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title: ‘Paul Coffey’,
description: ‘

For a guy who managed 1,531 points in his career, Coffey had trouble finding a home in the NHL. The defenseman played for nine different teams, although he picked up a few of those trying to keep his career going at the end. His final season was his only with Boston, and he tallied only four assists in 18 games.

Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images

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title: ‘Bobby Orr’,
description: ‘

Orr, for many years, was the quintessential “sad end to a great career” guy in NHL history. To be fair, injuries were the culprit, as Orr was only 30 when he had to retire. Unfortunately that retirement came in Chicago, not Boston, where he remains a legend. Orr could suit up for only six games in the 1978-79 season after sitting out the entire previous season.

Focus On Sport/Getty Images

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title: ‘Ray Bourque’,
description: ‘

Let’s move to the other end of the spectrum. Bourque spent 21 seasons with the Bruins but was traded to the Avalanche because Boston wanted its legendary defenseman to have a chance to win a ring. He played one full season in Colorado, and it went pretty much perfectly. During the regular season, he notched 59 points. In the playoffs he added 10 more, and the Avalanche did indeed win the Cup. Captain Joe Sakic immediately handed the trophy to Bourque, and even fans in Boston were celebrating.

B Bennett/Getty Images

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title: ‘Al MacInnis’,
description: ‘

MacInnis is remembered for his huge slap shot, which served him well until ALMOST the very end. In his penultimate season, MacInnis scored 16 goals, added 52 assists and finished second in the Norris voting. The next year he suffered a serious eye injury that limited him to three games. Then the lockout happened, and MacInnis was the rare player who decided he didn’t have it in him to try and gut it out for another year.

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images/NHLI

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title: ‘Martin Brodeur’,
description: ‘

Brodeur has more wins than any goalie ever, and he has four Vezinas to his name. You remember him as a Devil. You should remember him as a Devil. Let’s all try and forget his final season, when he played in seven games as a Blue. It was a bizarre sight, and his performance (.899 save percentage) made it clear it was time for him to hang it up.

Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

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title: ‘Patrick Roy’,
description: ‘

Roy, who was honestly a better goalie than Brodeur, but that’s an argument for another day, also had a better end to his career. In his second-to-last season, he led the NHL with a 1.95 GAA, thanks in part to a .925 save percentage. His next year he was only slightly less impressive, as he had a 2.18 GAA and .920 save percentage. Roy would eventually become coach of the Avalanche, but that didn’t go as well as his playing days.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images/NHLI

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title: ‘Dominik Hasek’,
description: ‘

Hasek’s career GAA is the lowest of any goalie who played after World War II, which helped him earn not just six Vezinas but also two Harts. He hung on until he was 43, but his play with the Red Wings was less than stellar. Hasek had only a .902 save percentage in 40 starts. In the playoffs, he even gave the starting job over to Chris Osgood. Of course the Wings won a Cup that year, so the Dominator probably has zero regrets about his final season.

Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT/Sipa US

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title: ‘Ed Belfour’,
description: ‘

Much how like Brett Hull went to play one final season in Arizona before retiring, Belfour went from snowy Toronto down to Florida for his last campaign. He was able to play in 58 games, but his 2.77 GAA and .902 save percentage were thoroughly mediocre.

Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald/MCT/Sipa USA

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title: ‘Jacques Plante’,
description: ‘

Plante is a hero to all modern goalies by being the first guy to wear a mask full time in net. That may feel like forever ago, but Plante played for so long that he finished his career in the ‘70s. Technically, his final season came as a 46-year-old in the WHA. However, his last NHL season saw him split time between the Maple Leafs and Bruins. He played quite well in eight regular-season games with Boston but couldn’t hack it in the playoffs. In two postseason games he posted a 5.00 GAA, which is probably why he ended up having to go to the WHA to keep playing.

Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images

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How the best NHL players of all time fared in their final seasons

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