Unlike fine wine, hockey players don’t always get better with age.
However, that doesn’t mean that men and women over the age of 50 don’t enjoy playing the sport.
Sportsnet’s Derek Wright did a nice report (see video above) from Burlington, Ont., on a story of an 86-year-old player named Stewart Cockshutt, who’s attempting to get into the Guinness World Record Book.
Cockshutt’s impressive accomplishment made us reflect back on some players who were able to extend their pro careers deep into their 40s. And in one case, beyond.
With that in mind, here are the 10 oldest players ever to suit up in an NHL game:
Gordie Howe (1980): Mr. Hockey played 1,767 career NHL games across five decades and is widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. Howe is the oldest player ever to suit up in an NHL game (52 years, 11 days), playing his final season with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80.
Chris Chelios (2010): Chelios was known as a freak of nature because of how long he was able to extend his NHL career. At 48 years and 71 days, Chelios is the oldest defenceman ever to suit up (playing his final game with the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers). He appeared in the playoffs 24 times, an NHL record and is tied with Howe for most NHL seasons.
Maurice Roberts (1951): Roberts is not only the oldest man ever to play goalie in NHL history (45 years, 345 days), but at one point he was also the youngest goalie ever to suit up in the NHL. Roberts suited up in 1951 when he was forced into duty while serving as an assistant coach.
Johnny Bower (1969): The Maple Leafs legend suited up during the 1968-69 season as a 45-year-old. His oldest appearance in the NHL came 32 days after his 45th birthday when he was still playing for Toronto. At 44, he was the oldest goalie ever to win a playoff game and he remains the last netminder to win a Cup with the Maple Leafs.
Gump Worsley (1974): Worsley is the third-straight goaltender to pop up on the list. He was 44 years and 323 days old when he last appeared for the Minnesota North Starts in 1974. He was best known for his large off-the-ice personality and his unique fear of flying.
Lester Patrick (1928): Most of Patrick’s playing days pre-dated the NHL, but he did suit up as a 44-year-old for the Rangers during the 1926-27 season. Patrick was serving as the coach and general manager of the Rangers, but inserted himself into a playoff game against the Montreal Maroons after goaltender Lorne Chabot suffered an eye injury when he was hit by the puck.
Doug Harvey (1969): Harvey and Patrick are tied at 44 years and 100 days. Harvey is regarded as one of the best blueliners ever to play in the NHL, winning the Norris Trophy even times. The long-time Canadien was one of the best scoring defencemen of his generation.
Jacques Plante (1973): Plante checks in on the list at 44 years and 78 days. The Hall of Fame goaltender played in the NHL from 1952-1973, racking up six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens. He is best known for his innovation, as the first NHLer to sport a goalie mask.
Tim Horton (1974): Everyone knows his name because of the successful coffee shop chain, but Tim Horton was a heck of a hockey player. Horton suited up 39 days after his 44th birthday with the Buffalo Sabres in the final season of a fantastic career. He played over 1,400 NHL games with the Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Teemu Selanne (2014) Selanne rounds out the top-10, finishing up the 2013-14 season for the Anaheim Ducks just 48 days away from his 44th birthday. Selanne is the most productive Finnish player ever to suit up in the NHL and ranks 11th all-time in goals scored.
Honourable mention: Jaromir Jagr — At 43 years old, Jagr is the oldest active player in the NHL. He’s still kicking it with the Florida Panthers and is just over a month away from passing Selanne on the top-10 list. The NHL legend is the leading point scorer among active players and ranks fourth-all time in scoring, trailing only Howe, Mark Messier, and Wayne Gretzky.