“I’m like a spring chicken compared to Claude Lemieux,” joked the Devils’ newly acquired Brendan Shanahan, and with good reason. Shanny’s autumn/winter of rest barely compares to Lemieux’s nearly 6 year layoff from top flight professional hockey, a non-playing streak that could come to an end as soon as Tuesday’s visit by Tampa Bay writes the San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak :

The Sharks have called up Claude Lemieux from their Worcester development team, fulfilling the comeback dream for the 43-year-old “super-pest” who hasn’t played in more than five years.

Lemieux played in 23 games for Worcester, scoring three goals and eight assists. But Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has said that points were not a significant part of the evaluation process for Lemieux, who has won four Stanley Cups on three different teams.

Lemieux has a reputation as someone who could get under the skin of opponents, many of whom considered him a dirty player. His most infamous hit came during the 1996 playoffs when he bloodied Kris Draper by driving him into the sideboards.

This weekend, Draper took the high road when asked about Lemieux’s comeback attempt.

“I’ve been told by a lot of people, ‘Play the game as long as you can.’ That’s the way I look at it,” Draper said. “You know, the thing that happened is a long time ago. Now he’s a player trying to make a comeback. I’m getting older right now and I’m going to play this game as long as I can and that’s the way I look at it.”