After twenty seasons in the NHL, New Jersey Devil Patrik Elias has announced his plans to retire. After nearly an entire season spent on the sidelines due to a knee injury, Elias will take to warm-ups for the last time in his career at the Devil’s final home game of the season on April 8 against rival, the New York Islanders.
Spending his entire career with the Devils’ organization, Elias has been intertwined in their history forever. Winning two Stanley Cups with the team, as well as being the all time point, goal and assist leader in the teams history makes it so even if he is not playing, he will always be part of the team. To make sure he knows this and all the fans due as well, the Devils have already announced plans to retire his number, 26, with a ceremony some time next season.
As a team that has felt the blow of trades, retirements, and players going back to their home countries, Elias is just another one to add to the list. As one of the last players still remaining from the cup years, it will be sad to see the end of an era.
In an interview with the NHL.com, Elias explained why he decided enough was enough, even after beginning to train again. “The reason was I wasn’t sure if I would be able to physically and, second of all, I probably wouldn’t be able to play to the level I wanted to,” he said. “I enjoyed being out there, I enjoyed going through practice and doing the work itself, but kind of didn’t see myself anymore going to the morning skates and evening games and traveling and all that.”
As a player who is nearing 41 years old, it was only a matter of time before he decided to hang up the skates for good. With the several knee injuries over the past few seasons, it was really just a waiting game. Not every player can be like Jagr and play until they are 45, its kind of unheard of.
Elias has been the fabric, the heart and the soul of the New Jersey team for nearly two decades, and he will be sorely missed in the lineup. But, on the bright side, with Ray Shero as the GM, with the cleared up cap space, hopefully younger and skillful players will come to the team and make them great again.