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Great hockey un-retirements

Unless you suffered from a 24-hour coma, you've probably heard the news that Brett Favre retired from the game of football.

The first thing I did after I learned the news from Satan Skip Bayless and the WWL crew was send my buddy a text message that compared Favre to Tupac (faking his [football] death, not having a blood feud with an obese East Coast rival).

Not soon after, my thoughts turned to the great hockey un-retirements...which made me realize just how much more I have to learn about hockey history.*

In fact, I'd like to make an open challenge to NHL history guru Joe Pelletier to educate us young 'uns about the sure-to-be myriad hockey returns I don't know about. But for the sake of brevity, let me run briefly through the ones that come to mind and give each one a snarky rating at the end.

The near-simultaneous Teemu and Niedermayer de-tirements

Obviously since these "returns" happened just this year, we won't know where each reemergence ranks in hockey history until the playoffs take place. But I think I speak for non-Ducks fans everywhere when I call these returns "glorified vacations." Or, lame.

Rating: Somewhere between the trade-enforced return of Keith Van Horn and whenever oblivious 80's teen movie parents return from their vacation early to stumble upon their children's massive keg party.

Saku Koivu defeats cancer

There's a lot to like about Koivu, but most of all you really have to marvel at the guy's resiliency. If it weren't for the fact that Mario Lemieux won a friggin' Hart Trophy while recovering from chemo therapy, I think Koivu would get more credit for his stunning recovery. I also recall a player coming back from cancer in the late '90s, but his name escapes me. I'm definitely going to kick myself for forgetting his name.
Rating: A partial Lance Armstrong.

Mario Lemieux's return

Has there been a more special return, considering their run to the Eastern Conference Finals and the fact that both Jagr and Lemieux were in the top-3 in Hart Trophy voting that year? Of all the experiences in my life, I think that playoff/regular season run might be the moment I will never be able to judge objectively.

Rating: Jordan returning from baseball...and the world deleting any memory of his time wearing a Wizards jersey.

Gordie Howe's 5 million returns

The Gordie Howe hat trick might be one of Howe's lasting legacies, but the guy had more hockey lives than a cat. Any time you see some boxer keep coming back or witness some legend foolishly trying to rekindle the magic of the past, just point to Howe.

He played on a line with his SONS!

Rating: No comparison. Also, doesn't he sort of look like Chris Cooper in that photo? Gordie Howe kicks ass. He might be hockey's Ditka.

* I would like to mention that I didn't forget Ken Dryden, who might be the only hockey player to ever leave the sport early...for his education. If you consider yourself a good hockey fan and even slightly enjoy reading, "The Game" is absolutely required reading. This is non-negotiable.