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With Brady leaving Patriots, remember these hockey legends in places you forgot

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As mind-blowing as it is to type this, it’s true: Tom Brady said goodbye to the Patriots on Tuesday. It’s something that’s difficult to process, even if you’re not a Patriots or even a football fan. Yet, as Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra chronicles for baseball, legends donning strange uniforms late in their careers is no new phenomenon, and certainly not limited to the land of pigskins. So what about hockey and the NHL, then?

Hockey fans have been treated to quite a few one-team legends, including Mario Lemieux saving the Penguins more than once.

Even so, there are plenty of legends who ended spent time in jerseys that just felt wrong. Let’s ponder the hockey answers to Brady leaving the Patriots, Johnny Unitas on the Chargers, Michael Jordan with the Wizards, and Babe Ruth on the Boston Braves.

Orr down hockey Brady comparison
(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque leave Boston with very different results

At least with Brady, Boston-area fans couldn’t reasonably ask for more. Meanwhile, Bobby Orr’s career concluded with questions of “What could have been?”

Knee injuries ravaged his later career, and after 10 seasons, Orr left the Bruins for the Blackhawks. Between two seasons, Orr could only appear in 26 games for Chicago.

In something of a sequel, the Bruins traded Ray Bourque during his 21st season with the team, setting the stage for Bourque to eventually win a Stanley cup inspiring enough to essentially demand a parade in Boston.

Brodeur Blues Brady leaving Patriots hockey comparison
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Brodeur finishes with the Blues

If Orr on the Blackhawks isn’t the Brady comparison you think of for hockey, then it’s probably Brodeur appearing in seven games for the Blues after winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezinas, and setting the all-time wins record over 1,259 games with the Devils.

(That contrast still makes me chuckle, to be honest.)

As awkward as Brodeur’s brief Blues stint was, it lacked the angst of how Orr’s career ended. That might make it closer to a 1:1 hockey comparison for Brady, although the QB could easily prove that his tank isn’t empty.

Much of this list shows examples of players trying to prove that they could still play, with most sputtering out after running on fumes.

(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hull of a change, and Howe

Bobby Hull already experienced quite a journey going from the Blackhawks to the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets (scoring 303 goals in the WHA alone). Hull’s final hockey and NHL season was especially odd, though, starting with 18 NHL games for the Jets before being traded to the Hartford Whalers, playing nine games for The Whale. Gordie Howe ended up being a Whalers teammate of Hull, which is … yeah, pretty mind-blowing. Bobby Hull also attempted a comeback with the Rangers.

(Howe’s legendary career featured quite the second [and maybe third?] acts after his Red Wings days, including playing with his sons, and somehow managing 15 goals and 41 points with the Hartford Whalers at age 51.)

Bobby’s son Brett Hull experienced a journeyman career of his own. Brett convinced the Coyotes to unretire Bobby’s number 9, but that story ended with a whimper (five games) as Brett realized he couldn’t adjust to the post-lockout style of play in 2005-06.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Random Red Wings

If you’re playing trivia and “This player finished his career/briefly played for this team …” comes up, blurting out Detroit Red Wings isn’t the worst bet.

Lightning round, sometimes involving Lightning

  • Mats Sundin stunned Maple Leafs fans by joining the Canucks. There was some Alfredsson-like logic of linking Sundin with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin, yet the experiment lasted just 41 games.
  • Brian Leetch playing for the Maple Leafs was a little strange, but Leetch in a Bruins sweater will never look right.
  • Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens legend, as a Quebec Nordique? Yes, that happened. Jacques Plante bounced around quite about post-Habs, too, including eight games with the (gasp) Bruins.
  • Like Plante, Grant Fuhr pinballed around the NHL quite a bit after parting ways with the Oilers, but joining the Flames? Wow. Fuhr didn’t just play for the Calgary Flames, either, as he suited up twice for the Saint John Flames.
  • File Ed Belfour and Igor Larionov under “people you might not have known played for the Panthers.”
  • Olaf Kolzig was persistent in Washington as Godzilla could be in Tokyo, playing 711 of his 719 games for the Capitals. The eight other games came with the Lightning. (Vincent Lecavalier playing for the Kings was strange, but softened by his years with the Flyers.)

Feel free to mention other fish-out-of-water memories in the comments. Also, if you had to guess, which hockey legend will Brady mirror the most?

(Hopefully we won’t ever get that “Halloween Olajuwon as a Raptor vs. Patrick Ewing with the Magic” feeling from Brady’s final act.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Hurricanes go penalty kick, not shootout, in latest Storm Surge

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After dusting off the “Storm Surge” with fairly pedestrian post-win celebrations, the Carolina Hurricanes are starting to flex their muscles again.

Following Tuesday’s 2-1 win against the Calgary Flames, the Hurricanes did a fun Halloween-themed bit where they handed out candy. Friday presented one of their best bits yet, though, as the Hurricanes presented a delightful “penalty kick” by Jessica McDonald, star of the North Carolina Courage (who recently became National Women’s Soccer League champions). It was a great moment after the Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 7-3.

As you can see from the video above, McDonald had to get her penalty kill in a much smaller net than usual, and also had to beat Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn. McDonald nailed it, and added to the Hurricanes run of great sports-themed “Storm Surge” celebrations, as this very much ranks up there with their great basketball-dunking celebration from 2018-19.

In case you want to see that Halloween “Storm Surge” from earlier this week, here it is:

What’s your favorite rendition so far?

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Justin Morneau calls Donald Fehr a “perfect union boss”

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Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau provides The Pioneer Press with rave reviews for NHLPA leader Donald Fehr, who ran baseball’s union from 1986 to 2009.

“He’s a great communicator. He’s up-front, he puts it out there — what he thinks is best for the union — and he’s just a great leader,” Morneau said.

“He’s just a perfect union boss, I think.”

Morneau began playing in the big leagues in 2003, so he gained quite a bit of exposure to the way Fehr works.

Like many other onlookers, the British Columbia native (and Vancouver Canucks fan) doesn’t have much of an idea about when pucks will drop again.

“When? I don’t know,” Morneau said. “I’m a fan. It gives me something to do in the winter. Who knows? It’s not good for anybody, I know that.”

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Alex Ovechkin among stars involved in Sportscenter’s “My Wish” segments

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There are a lot of great opportunities that come with being a superstar like Alex Ovechkin. Making a charitable impact – particularly on children – might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but plenty of athletes do just that. ESPN’s Sportscenter has been running a “My Wish” segment which follows sports stars working with the “Make a Wish” foundation for seven years now and Ovechkin will be featured in one this week.

Ovechkin spent two days with 16-year-old Sam Jacobson, a boy from Idaho who is playing on his high school hockey team despite battling lymphoma. The segment includes a moment when Jacobson got to skate with the Capitals during a March 7 practice and will first air on Thursday, July 20 at 3 p.m. ET.

Here’s a summary from the Capitals’ press release.

Ovechkin spent two days with Sam Jacobson, 16, including after a Capitals practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday, March 7. Jacobson who played on his high school hockey team despite recovering from lymphoma, had his most heartfelt wish come true as he met his hockey idol Ovechkin and skated with him after practice on March 7, 2012, through the Make-A-Wish®. Sam began the day by taking a tour of the practice facility and Caps’ locker room. Inside the players’ locker room, he had his own stall, stocked with hockey equipment donated by Bauer. After he suited up, he ended the day by skating with Ovechkin, Karl Alzner, Jason Chimera and other players following their practice. In addition, Sam attended two Capitals home games and spent some time with Ovechkin following the games in the Capitals locker room.

That’s fantastic, isn’t it?

ESPN reports that 41 athletes will be included in this year’s segments. Lebron James, Kyle Busch, DeSean Jackson, Rory McIlroy, Mark Sanchez and Ovechkin will be featured in this week’s segments. You can check out a video promo here.

(Main photo via ESPN Images.)

Ward on Holtby: “He’s in beast mode”

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It’s common in sports to see people repeat phrases to honor its stars (or shorten their names). It always seemed wrong – if understandable – that LaDainian Tomlinson was called “LT” after Lawrence Taylor owned it. It kinda felt the same way when Game 7 OT hero Joel Ward evoked Marshawn Lynch’s shtick when describing Braden Holtby’s great play during a 4-3 series win.

“He’s been in beast mode,” Ward said.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fine phrase, just not the ideal one.

Honestly, with the way he didn’t even react to Rich Peverley’s slash threat, I think I’d evoke the “ice water in veins” cliches. I’ll open the floor for some cool nicknames for Holtby then – give it your best shot.

(Editor’s note: if Ward was somehow making a reference to that so-bad-it-was-good Sega game “Altered Beast,” then I retract any criticisms I just made.)

Here’s video of Ward’s interview:

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Also, check out this clip of Holtby’s own reactions:

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