August 18, 2013

Prost Jochen Hecht!

One of the NHL's classiest utility players has played his last game.

Jochen Hecht was a lanky forward out of Germany. Drafted by St. Louis in 1995, he played for the Blues and Edmonton Oilers before finding a long time home with the Buffalo Sabres. He became one of coach Lindy Ruff's most reliable foot soldiers.

Hecht ends his NHL career with 833 games played, 186 goals and 277 assists totaling 463 points. He regularly challenged the 20 goal level, topping it twice, but was never a true offensive force for the Sabres. He left some fans wanting more from him in that regard. He was never accused of being a flashy player.

Instead he was a coach's dream. He was well-rounded forward who could excel in a variety of roles. He was a solid complimentary player who could move throughout the line-up. He could play either wing or even center. He became a strong face-off man and a top penalty killer.

Offensively he protected the puck well and was strong on his skates, making it tough to remove the puck from his stick. He lacked the first step quickness and the physical mentality to surprise defenders and drive to the net. Instead he created space and made nice passes to teammates.

Hecht suffered a scary concussion in January of 2012 that ended his season. The lockout of 2012-13 actually afforded Hecht the time necessary to heal and return to the ice for one last season. Good for one of the NHL's good guys - he deserved to go out on his own terms.

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