5 active 40-year-old NHL players

Being 40 years old in professional sports usually means you are more likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame than be called upon to play in the All-Star Game. Many players over the years have discovered that with age comes a drop off in play.

There are currently five players in the NHL who have reached the 40-year mark, and contrary to what should be expected, those five players are currently five of the more impressive specimens in the league. Retirement is surely not far off for any of them, but all five seem motivated to make one final case for a Hall of Fame induction.

Anaheim Ducks right winger Teemu Selanne
Wikimedia Commons

Dwayne Roloson(notes) - New York Islanders, Goaltender

Born October 12, 1969 (41 Years Old)

"Roli the Goalie" was a little late to the NHL game, not managing to crack an NHL roster until the age of 32 with the Minnesota Wild. Officially the Wild split the goaltending job between Roloson and Manny Fernandez(notes), but it was through Dwayne Roloson's impressive showings that the Minnesota Wild managed to succeed.

In 2003 Dwayne Roloson backstopped the Minnesota Wild all the way to the NHL Western Conference Finals, following that up the next season with by being named to NHL All-Star Game and winning the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award as the NHL leader for save percentage.

Roloson had another impressive showing in 2006, when his expert goaltending skills helped the dark horse Edmonton Oilers compete for the Stanley Cup against the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately, Dwayne Roloson's run in net came to an end suddenly when a collision with Hurricanes' forward Andrew Ladd(notes) resulted in an MCL sprain.

Eventually Roloson found his way to the New York Islanders, where he was hired in 2009 to fill in for the perpetually injured Rick DiPietro(notes). The Islanders were far from a great NHL team, but the reliable netminding of Dwayne Roloson was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise poor team. Even today, with the New York Islanders flirting with the last overall position in the NHL, Dwayne Roloson has managed to post a .910 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average.

Mark Recchi(notes) - Boston Bruins, Right Wing

Born February 1, 1968 (42 Years Old)

Currently the oldest active player in the NHL, Mark Recchi broke into the NHL ranks back during the 1988-89 season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Recchi quickly became a productive member of the Penguins squad, peaking with a 40-goal, 113-point effort in 1990-91. If that was not enough, the Pittsburgh Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1991, with Recchi scoring 34 points in 24 playoff games.

Mark Recchi was traded midway through the next season to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he developed chemistry with Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk to form the "Crazy Eights" line. It was during this time that Recchi had his best season, scoring 53 goals and 123 points in 1992-93. Another 100-point season followed before Mark Recchi again became the victim of a trade.

The production dropped off quite a bit without the assistance of star players like Mario Lemieux and Eric Lindros, but Mark Recchi remained at-or-near a point-per-game during his stay with the Montreal Canadiens.

Another trade came for Mark Recchi in 1999 when he was re-acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Dainius Zubrus(notes). Recchi's pace again picked up playing for his old team, resulting in a 28-goal, 91 point campaign good enough for third overall in the NHL and a Lester B. Pearson Award nomination. Mark Recchi would help the Flyers reach the NHL Eastern Conference Finals twice over the next five seasons.

Once again on the move, Mark Recchi signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004. The NHL lockout nullified the first year of the deal, but things looked good for the second year as Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby(notes) would both be playing. By the NHL trade deadline, however, it was apparent that the Pittsburgh Penguins would not be contenders and Mark Recchi was again traded.

Recchi's new home was with the Carolina Hurricanes, whom Mark Recchi won his second Stanley Cup in 2006. It turned out to be a brief stay, though, as Recchi signed a new deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins after the season ended.

Mark Recchi became a nomad over the next several season, bouncing between the Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning before eventually being traded to the Boston Bruins at the 2009 NHL trade deadline.

The Bruins turned out to be the perfect team for the aging Recchi, as he put up 10 goals in his first 18 games. In his second season with Boston, Mark Recchi managed to post 43 points to again be a forceful presence.

His role expanded in 2010 when the Bruins called upon Recchi to mentor 2010 second overall draft pick Tyler Seguin(notes). Recchi's years of dedicated play would be invaluable to a teenager like Seguin. Not only that, but Mark Recchi has show thus far that he still has more gas in the tank, and currently sits on pace to record 55 points by the end of the 2010-11 NHL season.

Mike Modano(notes) - Detroit Red Wings, Center

Born July 7, 1970 (40 Years Old)

Almost everyone knows Mike Modano as the face of the Dallas Stars franchise. Back in 1989, Modano debuted with the then-Minnesota North Stars and quickly became their franchise player for the next 20 years.

Unfortunately, by 2010 it had become apparent that Mike Modano had lost a step in his game. He finished the 2009-10 NHL season with only 30 points, a career worst, and the team he had played on for 20 years had publicly stated they no longer had interest in the former All-Star.

One team's garbage is another team's treasure, it seems, as the Detroit Red Wings decided to sign Modano despite already having a roster jam packed with talent. Mike Modano found a home on the lower Detroit lines playing with the likes of Dan Cleary, at times showing that he still had a flair for leadership even if his legs were not what they used to be.

Teemu Selanne(notes) - Anaheim Ducks, Right Wing

Born July 3, 1970 (40 Years Old)

When Teemu Selanne made his NHL debut he immediately skyrocketed to superstar status with a rookie record of 76 goals in his first season (a record that still stands). Selanne's name became a mainstay of scoring race discussions for some time before the effects of his fast paced style took its toll.

By 2001, only nine seasons after setting that rookie scoring record and now a three time 50-goal and 100-point scorer, Teemu Selanne's knees were shot and his effectiveness greatly diminished. In 2003-04 Selanne only managed 16 goals and 32 points while playing in 78 games.

Sometimes things turn out to be a blessing in disguise, and the NHL lockout turned out to be the best thing for Teemu Selanne's career. The cancelled season allowed Selanne to undergo much needed knee surgery.

When play resumed, Selanne, now once again a member of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, showed that he was not quite done yet. By the end of the 2005-06 NHL season Teemu Selanne had scored 90 points in 40 games to get his career back on track.

The late career resurgence continued the next year, with Selanne besting his 90-point season with 48 goals and 94 points in 2006-07. Normally that would be the high point, but Teemu Selanne and the newly christened "Anaheim Ducks" also went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2007, the first of Selanne's career.

Thoughts of retirement and untimely broken bones reduced Teemu Selanne to only 91 games (of a possible 164) over the next three seasons, leading many to believe that the "Finnish Flash" would finally call it a career. When team mate Scott Niedermayer(notes) announced his retirement (at the much younger 36 years old) in 2010, it was expected that Selanne would do the same.

Instead, Teemu Selanne signed a new one-year deal with the Ducks, hoping to go out on a high note after a string on injury plagued seasons. In a surprise that few saw coming, Selanne began the season by scoring 22 points in as many games and playing some of the best all-round hockey of his career.

Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) - Detroit Red Wings, Defenseman

Born April 28, 1970 (40 Years Old)

If there is one thing hockey analysts have learned in watching Nicklas Lidstrom play for nearly 20 years, it is that you can never count Nicklas Lidstrom out of a hockey game. The six time Norris Trophy winner has been among the best NHL defenseman ever since his 1991 debut, peaking with a career best 80 points in 2005-06, and crossing the +40 mark four times.

Nicklas Lidstrom's greatest accomplishments, of course, have to be his Stanley Cup wins as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Lidstrom has been a part of a Stanley Cup winning team four times (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), as well as winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 2002, while also playing in the Stanley Cup Finals twice more (1995, 2010).

At 40 years old, and coming off of his worst statistical season since 1992-93 ("only" scoring 49 points with a +23 rating), many predicted that Nicklas Lidstrom's time on the ice was almost over. The durable Swede surprised everyone when he started the 2010-11 NHL season at a blistering pace, recording 20 points in only 18 games. Even for a legend such as Lidstrom that is impressive, and he stands a very good chance of taking home a seventh Norris Trophy in 2011, and possibly one more Stanley Cup.

Close Calls

Doug Weight(notes) (39 years old, turns 40 later this season) - New York Islanders, Center

Kris Draper(notes) (39 years old, turns 40 in May) - Detroit Red Wings, Center

Craig Conroy(notes) (39 years old, turns 40 next fall) - Calgary Flames, Center

More from this contributor

4 Ageless Athletes

The Best Canadian Players in the NHL

Detroit Red Wings All-Time All-Star Team

Sources

http://www.nhl.com

http://www.hockeydb.com

http://www.legendsofhockey.com

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Updated Monday, Dec 6, 2010