Blackhawks' Shaw announces he's hanging up his skates
From the very beginning, Andrew Shaw's story was right out of a fairy tale.
He had little to no chance to become a professional hockey player.
He was too small and slow; his overall game just downright ugly.
Nothing about that storyline changed during the 2009 or 2010 NHL drafts as every team passed over the Belleville, Ontario, native, but in 2011 his carriage arrived when Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks decided to take a chance -- one they would never regret.
The feisty, hard-nosed, do-anything-for-his-teammates forward, who suffered multiple concussions during a 10-year career and announced the end of his playing career Monday, scored some of the strangest goals ever witnessed.
His biggest -- and perhaps luckiest -- came in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final when he tipped in a shot off his shin pad 12:08 into triple overtime to give the Hawks a 4-3 victory over Boston.
As teammates raced to embrace the player affectionately known as The Mutt, a clock at the United Center showed 11:59 p.m.
Almost eight years later, midnight officially struck on Shaw's Cinderella story.
His playing days are perhaps ending a bit prematurely, but they're ending because it's time to focus on family and long-term health.
"It's been in the back of my head for a few years," Shaw told the media in a conference call. "My love for the game pushed it away. Listening to doctors for once in my life, finally made a decision it would be best for me to retire.
"There's no way I can change the way I play. I'm going to keep putting myself in vulnerable situations."
Shaw has one year remaining on a contract that carries a $3.9 million cap hit, meaning he will remain on long-term injured reserve next season.
Shaw's swift rise to the NHL began when he fought the 6-2, 223-pound Dylan Olsen at the Hawks' summer prospects camp.
"I split him open pretty good," Shaw said in January 2016.
The fifth-round pick kept impressing in the minors, then got his big chance at Philadelphia on January 5, 2012. On his first NHL shift, Shaw engaged in a wild brawl with Zac Rinaldo. He would score the first of his 116 goals in the next period.
From that point on, Shaw was a staple in Joel Quenneville's lineup, with his tenacity, spirit and feistiness on display every single night.
"The reason I eventually made it was the love of the game, the passion I brought to the game, how competitive I am as a person," Shaw said. "All that's more important than skill and speed and size."
It's also vitally important to have a coach who believes in you and allows you to play your game. Although there were more than a few stupid penalties and questionable decisions, Quenneville saw early on how Shaw could lead the Hawks to victory in myriad ways.
"He had an underappreciated skill level," Quenneville said. "He had great hands and could score goals and make big plays. ... But he was one of those guys that really had a way of keeping our opponents with a lot of things to have to worry about during the course of a game.
"Wish him nothing but the best. I got a kick out of Shawzie."
Said Shaw: "He's one of the coaches who made me who I am. He took a kid who had passion, work ethic, someone who was intense and he let me be me. He let me play my style. He let me walk the line.
"I know there's times where I went over the line and took penalties and it might have hurt the team. But he saw in the long run that I was doing more good than I was harm. ...
"I think it rubbed off on my teammates. They saw how hard I was working, how competitive I was. Little warrior mentality where there wasn't a game that went by where I felt 100 percent because the game before that I took some blows, or threw some blows.
"Just to battle through it rubbed off on some people and I like to think it helped us win Cups."
Shaw, who scored a career-high 20 goals in 2013-14, was traded to Montreal in 2016. He was reacquired from the Canadiens in exchange for second- and seventh-round picks in the 2020 draft and a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. He only played 40 more games after that trade.
Shaw's final contest came Feb. 9 against Dallas when he suffered yet another concussion.
At first, Shaw just "focused on feeling better for my family, for myself." Eventually it was time to admit the time had come to hang up the skates for good.
The 29-year-old isn't sure about his next career move, only that he's excited to go home to Canada to help his dad build a house.
One day he may return to the Hawks in some capacity. But even if that doesn't happen, he'll come back to a city that embraced him from the outset.
"I thank everyone who gave a 20-year-old mutt a home," Shaw said. "Made me feel right at home. Chicagoans are the best people. Welcoming, caring, loving, supportive, and I'm going to miss the blue-collar mentality this city has. Everyone works hard and pulls their weight, make this place a home to many people.
"Everyone was great to my wife, kids, parents. My brother loves it so much he lives here now. Saying that, I'll be more visiting him as well.
"I want to thank Chicago, the fans, but you'll be seeing more of me, for sure."
2011-12 BLACKHAWKS: 37 games, 12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points, 82 hits
2012-13 BLACKHAWKS: 48 games, 9 goals, 6 assists, 15 points, 70 hits
2013-14 BLACKHAWKS: 80 games, 20 goals, 19 assists, 39 points, 168 hits
2014-15 BLACKHAWKS: 79 games, 15 goals, 11 assists, 26 points, 127 hits
2015-16 BLACKHAWKS: 78 games, 14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points, 148 hits
2016-17 Montreal: 68 games, 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points, 147 hits
2017-18 Montreal: 51 games, 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points, 80 hits
2018-19 Montreal: 63 games, 19 goals, 28 assists, 47 points, 128 hits
2019-20 BLACKHAWKS: 26 games, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, 74 hits
2020-21 BLACKHAWKS: 14 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 20 hits
Carrer totals: 544 games, 116 goals, 131 assists, 247 points, 689 hits
Note: 2012-13 season was 48 games