For all intents and purposes, Owen Nolan's NHL career ended after the 2009-2010 season with the Minnesota Wild. But the 40 year old Nolan, who played in Zurich last season, held off on his official retirement announcement until last weekend. Nolan will go down in the NHL history books as one of the top power forwards of his era. Over an 18 year career that saw him play in Quebec, Colorado, San Jose, Toronto, Phoenix, Calgary and Minnesota, Nolan totaled 422 goals and 885 points.
Teams covet power forwards and they are very tough to come by. Nolan certainly fit the bill with size, toughness and scoring ability. Former teammate Mike Ricci said Nolan could stick handle in a phone booth and had great hands for a big guy. He had two 40 goal seasons(coming 8 years apart by the way), four 30 goal seasons and four 20 goal seasons. In his second to last season at the age of 37 Nolan recorded 25 goals in just 59 games with the Wild. He was great on the power play registering 8 seasons with at least 10 power play goals. But don't forget about his toughness. Nolan had 9 seasons with 100 or more penalty minutes.
Then there's his durability. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson compared the role of NHL power forward to that of an NFL running back noting that both positions mean you take a lot of punishment and hand out a lot of punishment. When it comes to running backs we always hear about how short their shelf lives are due to the pounding they take. Nolan played in 12 hundred regular season games. Wilson who had a standout NHL career as a defenseman, said Nolan was one of the rare prototypical power forwards that had enough skill to beat you either way. The first overall pick in the 1990 draft by the Nordiques, Nolan never played on a Stanley Cup Champion but he did have 21 goals and 40 points in 65 career playoff games and he helped turn the Sharks into a perennial post season team. Nolan did win an Olympic gold medal as part of Team Canada in 2002.