SAN JOSE – Scott Hannan entered the NHL in 1998-99, when one of the more important aspects of playing defense was clutching and grabbing the opponent in order to slow him down.
The NHL changed after the lockout of 2004-05 in order to increase offense. That happened, and some of the defensemen that had to rely on those earlier methods to defend that were no longer legal were forced from the game.
Not Hannan. The now 36-year-old adapted, and early this season played in his 1000th NHL game. Hannan’s perseverance and hard work throughout a long career has earned him a nomination by the San Jose chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association as the Sharks’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually for the player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.”
“It’s an honor to be able to be able to play as long as I have,” Hannan said. “I owe that to a lot of people, coaches and family.”
In 58 games this season, Hannan has 2 goals, 7 points and an even rating. He was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract extension in the offseason partly to mentor the team’s younger players on the blue line as they adapt to the NHL.
Matt Irwin is one of those players. Irwin had a rough start this year, but has become one of the team’s more steady blueliners in the second half.
“He's been huge for me personally,” Irwin said. “When I've played with him this year, he communicates a lot and that's a big part of our game, talking to each other, making it simple. … He's a great role model that way.”
Hannan was originally drafted by the Sharks in the first round (23rd overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He was reacquired for a sixth round pick late in the shortened 2013 season after time in Colorado, Washington, Calgary and Nashville.
“When he came back to our organization, the thought was a veteran guy, kind of knows the community, knows the Sharks a little bit, he'll fit in. In my opinion, he's done way more than that,” Todd McLellan said. “Full credit to him, and I know his teammates appreciate having him around.”
What has kept Hannan going all these years?
“I guess like everybody, it’s for the love of the game,” he said. “It’s something you’ve done since you were five or six years old. It’s something I’ve always done. I enjoy lacing up the skates every day, coming to the rink.
“It’s an honor to get to play with some great players and great people. It’s definitely a driver to keep coming to the rink every day.”