Patrik Elias declared on Friday that he is resigning as an NHL player after 20 seasons in the League, all with the New Jersey Devils.
For his goodbye, the forward will skate with the Devils in pre-diversion warmups before their last home session of the season on April 8 against the New York Islanders.
“I’m good with it,” Elias told NHL.com. “I’m fortunate enough that ownership and the whole organization and everybody and the coaches and the guys gave me the time and the opportunity to come to the decision on my own time. That’s just so important because I cannot imagine how hard it is for some guys when their careers end overnight. That’s got to be unbelievably tough.”
Elias, who will turn 41 on April 13, retires as the Devils’ all-time leader in goals (408), assists (617), points (1,025), power-play goals (113), power-play points (333) and game-winning goals (80). The two-time Stanley Cup winner also ranks first in Devils history in Stanley Cup Playoff goals (45), assists (80), points (125), power-play goals (21) and power-play points (52) and is tied for the most game-winning goals (6) with Scott Stevens, Petr Sykora, Claude Lemieux and Jamie Langenbrunner.
The Devils declared Elias’ No. 26 would be resigned before a home diversion to be resolved next season. It will join Stevens’ No. 4, Daneyko’s No. 3, Scott Niedermayer’s No. 27 and Martin Brodeur’s No. 30 in the Prudential Center rafters.
Elias has not played since April 9, when he had an objective and two aids the Devils’ season finale, a 5-1 triumph against the Toronto Maple Leafs. From that point onward, he had planned to return for another season, however, needed ligament substitution surgery on his correct knee on May 11. It was the second surgery Elias had on that knee in four months.
Although he was not under contract, Elias continued skating in September. He enjoyed a short reprieve to go home to the Czech Republic for Christmas and kept skating in January. He was gaining ground, yet halted toward the beginning of February when he understood he didn’t know whether he needed to play.
“The reason was I wasn’t sure if I were 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 didn’t see myself anymore going to the morning skates and evening games and traveling and all that.
“And once you don’t have it in your heart and start doubting if you do have it or not, I think that’s the time to sit back and just be honest if it’s worth it.” Elias settled on his conclusion after conversing with Devils general supervisor Ray Shero taking after the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1. “I started having my mind on something else, some other things I wanted to do,” he said. “So it was time.”
All things considered, Elias didn’t totally preclude playing in the Czech Republic eventually.
“I’m done in the NHL. Let’s put it that way,” he said. “I’m not planning on playing next year somewhere else, but I’m going to still go on the ice whether it’s with friends or a junior team or something else because I like it. I like the activity, and I like going out there.”
Elias said he and Shero talked about quickly the likelihood of working for the Devils in some limit, yet he’ll presumably at first make a stride back and invest some energy with his significant other, Petra, and little girls, Sophia, 6, and Kaila, 3. That may likewise include moving back to the Czech Republic.
The Devils second-round pick (No. 51) in the 1994 NHL Draft, Elias is pleased to have spent his whole profession in New Jersey. Just Daneyko (1,283) and Brodeur (1,259) have played in more than his 1,240 consistent season amusements in a Devils uniform.
“I made a couple of decisions based on loyalty staying here, and I’m proud of it,” he said. “I’m proud of playing for one team, one organization.”
Elias won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000, setting up Jason Arnott’s Cup-winning objective in the second extra time of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Dallas Stars. Elias additionally won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003 and played in the Stanley Cup Final in 2001 and 2012.
Elias spoke to the Devils at the NHL All-Star Game in 2000, 2002, 2011 and 2015. He was voted an NHL First-Team All-Star in 2000-01 after he completed third in league with 96 focuses and tied for tenth with 40 objectives.
Elias called the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, when the Devils went to consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, “probably the best two years of my career.” His best game was Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final against the Philadelphia Flyers when he scored both Devils goals in a 2-1 victory, “just because of the importance of the games and the goals, no question.”
Elias said his strike sustain to Arnott on the Cup-winning objective is recalled most “just because it worked out”. However, his most loved help may have been a kick go to Langenbrunner in a 6-1 win in Game 1 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers.
“I had six points that game (two goals, four assists), which was unbelievable, and I kicked the puck like a soccer play to Jamie,” he said. “To me, that was one of the best assists I had.”
The memory of his last diversion against the Maple Leafs last season, with the fans droning his name at Prudential Center, is likewise one of his fondest.
“That game summed it up,” Elias said. “I just loved being out there and had fun. That game, even being almost 40 at the time, I just enjoyed the moment.”