October 04, 2016

Notable NHL Retirements

Three long time NHLers announced their retirement in the last couple of days.

The best of the three was Dan Boyle. Boyle was a dynamic sparkplug of an offensive defenseman for 17 seasons. He was best known for his role in helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win the 2004 Stanley Cup, but also for helping Canada win on home ice at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

He scored 163 goals and 605 points in 1,093 career NHL games with the Florida Panthers, Lightning, San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers. His best years came while with the San Jose Sharks. He is arguably the best defenseman in both Lightning and Sharks history.

Not bad for a player who was never drafted, eh?

Barret Jackman also announced his retirement. Jackman was a throwback to a much earlier era. He was a true warrior whose value to the team could never be marked by goals and assists.

Jackman spent last season with Nashville, but otherwise his 15 year career was spent all in St. Louis. The Blues made him 17th overall draft pick in 1999 and never regretted it. He played in 876 career games, He scored 29 goals and 186 points along with 1102 penalty minutes.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News pointed out the long odds Jackman faced since he was a youth.

We also say good bye to Cody Hodgson.

Hodgson was once a very promising, can't-miss prospect who turned into a definite miss. His defensive game and speed just were not up to par at the NHL level. Back and wrist injuries really stunted his development. He became a polarizing figure in Vancouver, who had drafted him and quickly gave up on him and traded him.

Others who have retired since the end of last season:

Mike Santorelli - He was a nice Swiss Army Knife style of player, in that he could fill many roles for short periods of time. He could just never really stick anywhere for any length of time. Still, he got into more than 400 NHL games.

Chris Phillips - Long time Ottawa Senator defenseman was very similar to Barret Jackman.

Grant Clitsome - A back injury forced this defenseman off the ice. He was a late round draft pick in 2004 who overcame the odds to play in over 200 NHL games.

Tim Brent - He hadn't played in the NHL since 2013, but this former Carolina Hurricane and Toronto Maple Leaf played in over 200 NHL games.

Colton Orr - I could never get used to this Orr wearing a Boston Bruins jersey. One of the last goons in hockey, he was nowhere near as beautiful to watch as Bobby Orr. But he played in nine seasons and 477 NHL games. Impressive.

Cody McCormick - This was not a surprise as he was unable to play since January 2015. At that time he blocked a shot and developed blood clots that spread into his lungs. The rugged forward was put on blood thinners and could not get doctor's clearance to play again.

Pavel Datsyuk - Not a true retirement, as he returned home to Russia to player. He is clearly the best player on this list at this moment. Detroit would rather have seen him return to honour the final year of his contract, but on the other hand are happy to have the KHL option to save the salary cap space. I do not understand how that is not salary cap circumvention.

Louis Leblanc - Similar to Cody Hodgson, Leblanc was a very intriguing prospect who never made it. He played last season in Switzerland. He's decided to return to Harvard to complete his studies - never a bad move.

Shawn Horcoff - Horcoff was an admirable utility center, perhaps best suited in the third line role. The long time Edmonton Oiler played one every line in his 1000 plus game career.

Matt Lindblad - Lindblad only played in four NHL games, so don't feel too bad if you, like me, had never heard him. Injuries forced him off the ice but he has found a job scouting for the Boston Bruins.

Paul Gaustad - A fierce and rugged center and faceoff specialist, Gaustad's retirement was a bit surprising to me. He played in 727 games in his career. He has opted to leave the game to spend more time with his young family.

Mattias Ohlund - Ohlund hadn't played for years thanks to his shot knees. But his contract finally expired, meaning he could officially retire.

Jason Labarbera - Labarbera has become the new goaltending coach for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. Recent hip surgeries convinced him to get something more stable for his family rather than bounce around the minor leagues again.

Scott Gomez - Gomez had somehow delayed the inevitable and found places to play in the last couple of years. In his prime he was a lot of fun to watch - a creative offensive force whose passion for the game was infectious.

Brad Richards - Like Gomez, he had hung on in the end. But also like Gomez, he was once one of the best in the business. 2004 was his best year when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy while leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup. A couple of months later he helped Canada win the World Cup of Hockey.

Tim Jackman - Gritty veteran decided heading back to school to complete his bachelor's degree would be easier on his ailing back than a 15th season of pro hockey.

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