Friday, November 17, 2006


Last Chance to See

Poor Jocelyn Thibault's career may effectively be in the toilet, as the Penguins' backup goalie, but he carries a mark of some distinction: he's one of only a handful of active NHL players who once wore the colors of the Quebec Nordiques.

It doesn't seem like the Nords moved all that long ago (although contemplation of the timeframe reminds me that I was 22 when it happened, and that in turn leads to more unpleasant contemplation), but eleven years is an eternity in a professional athlete's life -- and now there's only a dozen guys left who once called Le Colisée home. In addition to Thibault, there's Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Owen Nolan, Adam Foote, Mike Ricci, Martin Rucinsky, Chris Simon, Aaron Miller, Jon Klemm, Mats Sundin, and Martin Gelinas.

At this point, I'd guess the smart money is on Sundin, Rucinsky, or Foote being the Last Nord Standing -- Sakic has sorta indicated he's about done, Peter Forsberg seems to want to move back to Sweden more each day, and the rest of the guys are more-or-less done.

It's even worse for the old Minnesota North Stars -- only Mike Modano, Richard Matvichuk, and Derian Hatcher remain in the NHL, and Matvichuk is (I think) on a roster in name only. Eleven Hartford Whalers remain (I'll guess the last one from that crew will be J.S. Giguere or Chris Pronger), and ten Winnipeg Jets (eleven if Alexei Zhamnov counts -- I've lost track of his status). There, Shane Doan seems the likeliest to last the longest, although I think Teppo Numminen is set on playing forever.

(Just for trivia's sake -- and here, I'm sorta guessing, so feel free to correct me -- it looks like Brad Marsh was the last Atlanta Flame, and I'm pretty sure Joe Cirella was the last Colorado Rockie. Dunno about the last Scout, or Baron, or Seal -- or last St. Louis Eagle -- I'd check around but my employers like the occasional bit of work)

These numbers could change, of course, if a Rene Corbet or Igor Ulanov returns from Europe, a Sean Burke gets called up, or Dave Karpa makes his every-few-years surprise-return to the NHL. But regardless, the last vestiges of a few once-proud teams are getting closer to extinction. So spare a moment to think of these guys, and remember that the next time you see Josh Thibault sitting on the bench, or Owen Nolan shaking his head as the Coyotes give up the seventh goal of the night -- you're seeing history.

My guess is the last Seal was Dennis Maruk, who lasted just a hair longer than Charlie Simmer and Greg Smith.
Yeah, good bet. Maruk may even have been the last Baron as well...
Gilles Meloche has to be the last Seal...dude played forever.
Matvichuk is on LTIR. When he comes back he will be playing regular minutes for the Devils. He played well last season.
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