Brendan Shanahan

Raised in the US South, my childhood was immersed in sports. Over time, my passion evolved into a mission to share overlooked tales from the sports world. I created Daily Dose of Sports to highlight stories of perseverance, legends, and unsung heroes. Today, I'm not just a sports enthusiast - I'm a storyteller. Read more about me here.

Brendan Shanahan holds the unofficial record for most “Gordie Howe Hat Tricks” [goal, assist, fight in same game] with 17—15 more than “Mr. Hockey” had himself.

Nicknamed “Big” as a youngster because, like the character in the 1988 moving starring Tom Hanks, he was a boy in a man’s body, Shanahan is the only player in NHL history with over 600 career goals and 2,000 penalty minutes.  At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Shanahan brought a physical presence onto the ice.  At the time of his retirement in 2009, was the leading goal-scorer among active players.  Shanahan played for four teams over 21 NHL seasons, scoring 656 goals [currently 13th on the all-time list] in over 1,500 games played.  He is one of 27 players in history to have won a World Championships gold medal, Olympic gold, and a Stanley Cup, making him a member of hockey’s elite “Triple Gold Club.”  An eight-time All-Star, Shanahan helped the Detroit Red Wings win three Stanley Cups during his nine seasons in Hockeytown.

Brendan Frederick Shanahan was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, on this date in 1969.  One of four boys in an athletic family, he grew up in Mimico, a neighborhood on the western edge of Toronto.  A talented javelin thrower and lacrosse player, Shanahan attended St. Leo’s Elementary School and later led Micheal Power High School to the victory in the 1985 Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association hockey championship.  That autumn, he moved 100 miles southwest to join the London Knights, a junior team in the Ontario Hockey League.  He scored 28 goals and collected 62 points in his first year with the Knights, then collected 92 points the following season, 1986-87.  The Knights later retired Shanahan’s number 19.

After he graduated from Catholic Central High School, the New Jersey Devils selected Shanahan with the second overall pick of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, 13 spots ahead of future hall of famer Joe Sakic [Daily Dose, 7/9/15].  He scored 26 points in 65 games as an 18-year-old rookie and, by his third season, led the Devils in scoring.  By age 22, he was an established NHL star.

Shanahan became an unrestricted free agent in 1991 and, after four seasons in New Jersey, joined the St. Louis Blues.  In his second season in St. Louis, he exploded with 51 goals and 94 points.  The following year, he had personal bests in goals [52], assists [50] and points [102].  After three years in St. Louis, Shanahan was traded to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Chris Pronger.  He was named captain and led the team in goals and points, but was traded to the Detroit Red Wings after one season.

In his first season in Detroit, Shanahan scored 47 goals in the regular season and played in the All-Star Game for the second time in his career.  He collected nine goals and eight assists in the playoffs, helping the Red Wings to their first Stanley Cup since 1955.  Despite managing only 57 points in 1996-97, Shanahan helped Detroit repeat as Cup champions.  The 2001-02 season was a banner one for Shanahan, as he made his seventh All-Star team, scored his 1,000th point in the NHL, and helped Team Canada to a gold medal in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.  Later in the season, he scored his 500th career goal, firing a game-winner past hall of famer Patrick Roy [Daily Dose, ] in a 2-0 victory over Colorado that clinched the President’s Trophy as the top-ranked regular season team.  Shanahan then scored 19 points in the playoffs to help Detroit claim is third Stanley Cup title in seven years.

Following nine successful seasons in Detroit, Shanahan joined the New York Rangers in 2006.  He began his Rangers career by scoring his 599th and 600th career goals in a season-opening win in Madison Square Garden [Daily Dose, 12/15/15].  Later that season, he was named captain of the Eastern Conference for the 2007 All-Star Game.  A month later, he suffered a concussion and missed 15 games before returning to the lineup and finishing the season with 62 points in 67 games played.  After the Rangers did not renew Shanahan’s contract at the end of the 2007-08 season, he sat out the first half of 2008 before returning to New Jersey.  Shanahan rejoined the Devils in January 2009—17 years, 294 days since he left the team as a free agent—the longest gap in tenure with one team in NHL history.  He scored the first goal of the game in his first game back but was unable to perform at the level he was accustomed to and retired after the season.

Playing for Team Canada, Shanahan won gold medals at the 1991 Canada Cup, 1994 World Championships, and 2002 Olympics.  In the NHL, he won three Stanley Cups and had 19 seasons in which he scored 20 or more goals, which is second on the all-time list.  Despite a lack of skating speed, Shanahan led the league in short-handed goals in 1994 and power-play goals in 1997.  Only one left-winger in NHL history—the great Luc Robitaille–has scored more career goals [668]than “Big”.  During the NHL lockout in 2004-05, he organized the “Shanahan Summit,” a two-day conference at league headquarters between players, coaches and executives to discuss ways in which to improve hockey.  Several of the recommendations made to the league and it’s players association were implemented.  Following his retirement as a player, Mr. Shanahan accepted an offer to serve as the NHL’s vice president of hockey and business development.  In April 2014, he was named president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he is attempting to implement his “Shana-Plan,” a strategy for making the Leafs great again.

In November 2013, Brendan Frederick Shanahan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.