Stevens and Larionov on what it takes to stay in the NHL

Unthinkable
10-05-2003, 11:38 AM
http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/news?slug=ap-agedonice&prov=ap&type=lgns

NHL '03-'04: In NHL, old-timers play every night
By ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer
October 4, 2003
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Larionov, now with the Devils after helping the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2002, is the oldest of the old-timers -- he'll be 43 in December, long past the age most contact-sport athletes expect to play.

``You have to love the game, you have to commit yourself to the game,'' said Larionov, the oldest player to score a game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals. ``You sacrifice a lot of things. When you're successful, you climb to that summit and there is nothing else above that. Then you take a couple of days or a couple of weeks off, and you feel hungry again, so you have to do it again. ... That's what keeps me going.''

That and the money, of course. The former Soviet Red Army star was making only $100 a month when he came to the NHL at 29, years after many players began making big money.

``That's not the reason, though,'' Larionov said. ``If you think about the money, you forget about the main thing: playing the game. You have to play the game.''
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Unthinkable
10-05-2003, 11:39 AM
Stevens, still one of hockey's premier defensemen and a three-time Stanley Cup winner, thinks something else is necessary to guarantee longevity.

``I think to play at the age of Igor and guys like Chelios and myself, you do stay in good shape and take care of yourself, and you have to be injury-free and have a lot of drive,'' Stevens said. ``You also have to like to compete. That might be the biggest thing.''

Because players are staying in exceptional shape until they reach a relatively advanced age, Messier said retiring becomes difficult for some.

``You have to be able to put the work in, put the training in and the hours in to get yourself ready to play and then decide if you really want to play or not,'' he said. ``There's never a perfect scenario to retire. ... When it's time to retire it's always going to be a disappointment. That's just the way sports is.''