The age-old question in the NHL

Players showing that turning 35 doesn't mean the fall of a great career

Updated: October 10, 2011, 10:27 AM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Mike KnubleGraig Abel/NHLI/Getty ImagesAt 39 years old, Mike Knuble is still producing at a high level for the Capitals.

It was hardly a surprise when Nicklas Lidstrom decided to return for a 20th NHL season. After all, he had led the Detroit Red Wings in ice time per game and was the first 40-year-old defenseman to score 60 points in an NHL season -- en route to winning his seventh Norris Trophy despite playing the toughest competition and starting in the defensive end most of the time.

"[Lidstrom is] one of those guys that's a freak of nature, the shape he's in," teammate Niklas Kronwall said to Michigan media upon hearing Lidstrom would return for another season. "We're so spoiled having a guy like that around."

Lidstrom no doubt has kept Father Time on the other side of the boards, but if you examine NHL history, you'll notice that a player's productivity starts to wane as he ages.

A few other exceptions to the rule, however, prove that a 35th birthday doesn't signify the end of a career.

To read the full story about players excelling later in their careers, sign up for ESPN Insider.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.