Jun 27, 2011, 9:07 PM EDT
Only a truly dark soul would root against Steve Sullivan. The undersized winger fought his way to the NHL after being the 233rd overall pick of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, bouncing from New Jersey to Toronto to Chicago before finally finding a nice home with the Nashville Predators.
Sullivan became a partial star among a bevy of worker bee players for a time with Nashville, but injuries and the effects of aging pushed him down the team’s totem pole until he was a rarely used occasional healthy scratch in the 2011 playoffs. The feeling was that his days were numbered with the Predators, but today’s report from Joshua Cooper pretty much makes his departure official.
There really isn’t a villain in the situation, though. The Predators organization was good to Sullivan, handing him a two-year, $7.5 million contract in the summer of 2009 and standing by him as he fought through troubling injuries during the last two out of three seasons. (Sullivan remarkably played in every game during the 2009-10 campaign.) Sullivan did his part by being a productive player and a quality human being.
The sad question remains: can Sullivan find work somewhere else in the league? It might depend on his contract demands because a contending team might be willing to give him a chance to regain his previous scoring form if he takes a significant pay cut. He hit the 75-point mark a decade ago and produced one other 70+ point season and five other seasons of 60 points or more, so the skill is (or at least was) there.
If this is Sullivan’s curtain call, he has nothing to be ashamed of. In a way, he was a poor man’s Martin St. Louis: a pint-sized player who refused to be ignored, put together a fantastic career, made plenty of money and defied expectations with plenty of class.
That’s not bad for an injury-prone ninth round draft pick.
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