As expected, Detroit Red Wings defenceman Brian Rafalski announced his retirement from hockey on Wednesday. The 37-year old leaves the game after 11 seasons in the NHL, in which he was a member of three Stanley Cup winning teams. Rafalski won two Cups with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and 2003, and won his third with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
Rafalski had one-year and $6 million remaining on a five-year pact signed back in 2007. On Wednesday morning Rafalski said that he had made the decision to retire two months ago, and that he intends to spend more time with his family.
“The decision was made between my wife and myself, approximately two months ago,” said Rafalski, at a news conference at Joe Louis Arena. “At the end of the day it came down to priorities with the top three priorities being: serving God, serving my family, and serving others. With hockey not being at the top, it’s time to move on.”
Nagging injuries to his back and knees ultimately took a toll on Rafalski’s body that made playing hockey much more difficult than it used to be.
“The injuries have paid a toll, and there wasn’t a day this year where I wasn’t on the training table,” said Rafalski, who missed 36 games in four seasons with the Wings. “As far as the money goes, there are more important things now.”
The native of Dearborn, MI was a late bloomer, having spent four years at the University of Wiconsin and then four more seasons between Sweden and Finland. Rafalski joined the New Jersey Devils as a free agent in 1999 at the age of 26. Although he recorded at least 40-points in all but two of his 11 NHL seasons, Rafalski may be a long shot to make the Hockey Hall of Fame.
What do you say, does Brian Rafalski belong in the Hall?