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Boucher: Two rare birds and a “young” retiree

Philippe Boucher played 17 seasons in the NHL, scoring 94 goals and 300 points in 748 games. The native defender of Saint-Apollinaire has notably had two seasons of 40 points and more. He made the All-Star Game in 2007, and lifted the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in his final NHL season in 2009. A first-round pick (13th overall) of the Buffalo Sabers in 1991, he successively played for the Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and Penguins. At the end of his playing career, he held management positions with the Rimouski Oceanic, the Quebec Remparts and the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Philippe has agreed to work with the NHL.com team to cover various current hockey topics.

In a league that is said to be getting younger and younger, there are two little old people who continue to have fun like crazy.

The defender Zdeno Chara has been the dean of the League since 2019, at the venerable age of 45 (which he had on March 18). This season, his 23rd career, he improved Chris Chelios’ longevity record for a defender, playing a 1,652nd game. The Slovak giant has reached 1,674 games before the last seven games for the New York Islanders this season, and he has not yet announced his intentions for the next season. The Islanders will not make the playoffs.

Another who may not have said his last word is the striker Joe Thornton Florida Panthers. The vice-dean of the NHL, at 42, still has time in front of him to think about it: his team will participate in the playoffs and it even has a good chance of going a long way in the coming months.

Meanwhile, in Anaheim, it’s a piece of Ducks history that will disappear in two weeks with the announced retirement of the striker Ryan Getzlafat age 36.

I didn’t play much against Chara, who only played for Eastern Association teams. I rubbed shoulders with Thornton and Getzlaf a lot.

The three marked my era as a player, which has already been a thing of the past for 13 years! We agree that we are talking about three future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

If Chara and Getzlaf have won the Stanley Cup, Thornton is offered one last (perhaps) golden opportunity to add the major missing feat to his fabulous record.

Chara is having a phenomenal career. He is a unique defender. There is no comparable. There was none before he arrived and there hasn’t been any throughout his career and I doubt there will be any even after his career.

Video: NYI@PIT: Chara scores his 1st goal of the season

His great asset will have been his ability to adapt. The game has changed a lot between its debut and today, with the elimination of the collision, among other things, and it has been able to make adjustments and even improve constantly.

His accomplishments are numerous and he has had an impact on the careers of a multitude of players.

Thornton has an undying love for hockey. The tall bearded man is one of the best puck distributors in history, with statistics to back it up (1,108 assists in 1,710 games).

Like Chara, he had a rocky start to his career. The pressure was on him with the Boston Bruins, as the first overall pick in the 1997 draft.

Video: FLA@ANA: Thornton scores on the return

He really flourished following the trade that sent him to the San Jose Sharks in 2005. He shone in California for fifteen seasons. The Sharks have formed a powerful team, with the Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelsky, Logan Couture, Brent Burns And the others. All they’ve been missing is a Stanley Cup win.

Getzlaf, most impressive is how quickly he was dominant in the NHL. Upon his arrival, he established himself as an offensive and physical player who imposed himself in all situations and who made the Ducks a winning team.

Video: ANA@BOS: Getzlaf shoots hard

Thornton and Getzlaf became known to Canadian hockey fans because they represented the country on the international stage on many occasions. They would have been talked about a lot more if they had played in NHL teams with more visibility, such as the New York Rangers, the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens.

All three have been great leaders, captains of their team. People knew how to appreciate the career they had known and the great accomplishments of each one.

Chara and Thornton are the last two active players who started their careers before the early 2000s. We are really talking about two rare birds.

*Comments by Robert Laflamme, NHL.com Senior Reporter

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