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End of an Era: NHL Legends Bid Farewell to the Ice

By: Sarah Overton

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As the 2023 NHL season ended, the league bid a heartfelt farewell to several legendary players who have decided to hang up their skates and retire from professional ice hockey. These players have left an indelible mark on the sport, thrilling fans with their exceptional skills, sportsmanship, and dedication over the years.

Markus Nutivaara

The retirement of defenseman Markus Nutivaara announced on June 30, marked the end of his six-season journey in the NHL. Nutivaara's career took an unfortunate turn during the 2021-22 NHL season when he suffered a debilitating hip injury, ultimately sidelining him from regular season play thereafter. However, he is known for being a sturdy defenseman who is not afraid to get physical with opponents. Nutivaara played 275 games during his career and recorded 17 goals and 71 points. Most of his career was spent with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Nutivaara ranks 12th in Blue Jackets franchise history for games played amongst defensemen. Nutivaara has stated that he is excited to start a new chapter of his life outside of the rink.

Darren Helm

On July 5, two-time Stanley Cup champion Darren Helm retired, concluding a remarkable 16-season career in the NHL. While playing, Helm skated for the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche. During his career, Helm played 823 regular season games and over 100 playoff games. One of the most notable moments of Helm’s career was when he scored with 5.6 seconds left in Game 6 of the second round to send the Avalanche to the 2022 Western Conference Finals. Helm won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008 and with the Avalanche in 2022.

Michael Stone

July 5 also marked the end of an era for Michael Stone as he announced his retirement from the NHL. With 12 seasons under his belt, Stone skated in 522 regular season games, leaving his mark with 41 goals and over 140 points. Around the league, Stone is known for his strong defensive skills, explosive slap shot, and physical play. Stone played 229 games with the Calgary Flames and even played his junior career in the city with the Calgary Hitmen. As a result of his long tenure in Calgary, Stone announced that he accepted a position in the Flame’s front office to help with player development. He is looking forward to how his new role will allow him to stay involved in hockey but give him more time to spend with his family.

Patric Hornqvist

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Longtime forward Patric Hornqvist retired from the NHL at the age of 36 after playing 15 seasons in the league. He totaled 901 NHL games and recorded 264 goals and 279 assists during his career. Hornqvist last played for the Florida Panthers; however, his 2022-23 season ended in early December after he received his second concussion within a month. Panthers head coach stated that Hornqvist was active in the locker room after his injury and helped keep morale up amongst the team as they competed throughout the season. One of Hornqvist’s most notable moments from his career was when he scored the cup-clinching goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to win the Stanley Cup. Hornqvist also won the Stanley Cup in 2016 with the Penguins.

Thomas Griess

Goaltender Thomas Greiss retired from the NHL on July 12. Greiss had a 14-year NHL career and was an integral part of the New York Islanders team that ended the franchise’s 23-year playoff drought in 2016. Greiss won the Williams M. Jenning Trophy in 2019, which is awarded annually to the goalie or goalie pair that lets in the least number of goals during the regular season. During that season, Greiss went 23-14-2 with a 2.88 GAA, .927 save percentage, and recorded five shutouts in 43 games. Greiss is the first German-born goalie to play at least 100 games and leads his countrymen in games played with 368.

Nate Thompson

Nate Thompson announced his retirement from professional hockey on July 15. Over his 15-year career in the league, Thompson played in 844 NHL games and recorded 65 goals and 99 assists. Thompson did not play in the NHL last year after being released from a PTO during training camp by the Los Angeles Kings. Thompson also represented the United States during international play, serving as the alternate captain at the IIHF World Championships in 2012 and 2013.

Patrice Bergeron

Legendary forward Patrice Bergeron retired from the NHL on July 25. Bergeron played all 19 seasons of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins and is one of the most remarkable players in franchise history. During his career, Bergeron had 1,040 points in 1,294 regular season games and 128 points in 170 playoff games. Bergeron is a six-time Selke Trophy winner and has received the most nominations for this trophy in NHL history. He also scored the game-winning goal for the Bruins to secure the Stanley Cup in 2011. Bergeron is a part of the “Triple Gold Club,” which means that he has won a gold medal at the Olympics and World Championships and has also won a Stanley Cup. Bergeron plans to spend some time with his family before deciding his next plans and future endeavors in the world of hockey. The Bruins plan on retiring Bergeron’s number to honor his dedication to the franchise.

David Krejci

(Photo by China Wong/NHLI via Getty Images)

Forward David Krejci announced his retirement on August 14. Krejci played 16 seasons with the Boston Bruins and finished his career with 786 points in 1,032 regular season games and 128 points in 160 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Krejci is the ninth leading scorer in Bruins franchise history and often ranked among the top-point getter for the team. Krejci played a significant role in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup victory in 2011 and recorded the most points in the playoffs that year. He is known for his clutch performances in the postseason, as well as his playmaking abilities. Krejci remains open to representing his native country of the Czech Republic at the 2024 IIHF World Championships; however, he knows that his body cannot keep up with a full NHL schedule.

Jonathan Bernier

Goaltender Johnathan Bernier announced his retirement from professional hockey on August 21. Bernier played 14 seasons in the NHL for several teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2012. Bernier missed the majority of the 2021-22 NHL season and did not play at all last year due to a hip injury. He last played for the New Jersey Devils in the 2021-22 season and was 4-4-1 with a 3.06 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 10 games.

Joonas Donskoi

Joonas Donskoi announced his retirement from the NHL due to concussions on August 27. Donskoi had not played since September 2022, after he sustained his seventh concussion during his NHL career. Donskoi was chosen by the Seattle Kraken during the expansion draft in 2021, recorded 22 points in 75 games for the franchise. Before being selected by the Kraken, Donskoi played for the San Jose Sharks and played a key role in helping the Sharks advance to the first Stanley Cup Finals in franchise history. Donskoi will finish his NHL career with 474 games and 208 total points.

Carl Hagelin

Two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin announced his retirement on August 30 due to complications from an eye injury he received in March 2022. Hagelin played collegiate hockey at the University of Michigan and was the first Swedish-born player to ever be a part of the team. Hagelin was the ‘H’ in the infamous ‘HBK Line’ for the Pittsburgh Penguins and played a large role in their back-to-back Stanley Cup runs alongside Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. Additionally, Hagelin, along with players like Patric Hornqvist, played a pivotal role in reshaping team culture, both on and off the rink, for the Penguins. Hagelin finished his NHL career with 854 games played and over 340 total points.

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