Brendan Shanahan holds the NHL record for Gordie Howe hat tricks. He recorded 17 Gordie Howe hat tricks during his hall of fame career, 15 more than Gordie himself. He also holds the distinction of being my favourite player who never donned the Maple Leafs' blue and white.
Admittedly, I was predisposed to liking him. I attended Michael Power High School in Etobicoke, Shanahan's school. Several teachers spoke highly of Shanny, and even his siblings taught there. He must have had a lot of siblings, because his siblings were also teaching at St. Cecilia's primary school, another school I attended. Like Shanahan, I rode the red rocket to Power where he was a legend.
Although I was predisposed to liking him, he made it easy to root for him in a way I've never rooted for a non-Leaf. He was a deadly sniper, scoring 656 goals, and he was a natural born leader, winning three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal. He was also incredibly consistent, scoring 20 or more goals in 19 consecutive years. And, as his Gordie Howe hat tricks attest, he was one tough sonufabitch.
Shanahan announced his retirement today, and I'm going to miss him dearly. Nobody did it better.