With all the free agent frenzy, Heatley drama and players swapping cities for decade-long contracts, this piece of news went relatively unnoticed. As you can imagine, I would think given the history of Claude Lemieux, a little mention of his accomplishments is warranted, based on the fact that he announced his retirement recently as published on NHL.Com.
So the come back is over, and we all get to say goodbye to one of the biggest clutch players in NHL history yet again: Claude Lemieux.
His announcement for retirement doesn't come as a surprise, as he is currently 44. He leaves the game extremely decorated and his mark as a veteran won't die down quickly, if ever. He won four Stanley Cups with three different teams (Montreal, New Jersey and Colorado).
Within 1,215 games played Lemieux has amassed an amazing 786 points with a staggering 1,777 penalty minutes and 58 game winning goals statistic under his belt.
This however, despite being impressive, is not his legacy. As mentioned earlier, it was his clutch play during the playoffs that resonated throughout the entire league and will surely be his definition for the years to come.
In his 234 playoff games, Lemieux has scored 80 playoff goals, just shy of Maurice Rocket Richard's all time record which is third on the list.
With 158 playoff points in his entire career, he will comfortably sit 24th in that category and tied for 37th in playoff assists. All this to go along with his Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player within the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1995 when he was hoisting the Cup in New Jersey.
Lemieux has reached the 20 goal plateau nine times with a career best in New Jersey with 41 goals.
His return to the game came in 2008 at the age of 43, he joined the San Jose Sharks.
Lemieux had the following to say at his press conference: "I want to thank my former teammates from my entire career for all of their support, I feel very fortunate that I was able to have a career like I had. There have been many great NHL players who did not get the opportunities to win that I had. I played for a long time but it went by so very fast."
Lemieux followed "Many people will think the main highlights of my career will be the Stanley Cups, the Conn Smythe Trophy and Canada Cup, but to me and my family, coming back and playing in my first game in San Jose will be remembered as one the great highlights of my career."
"I want to thank the Arizona Sun Dogs for letting me train with them, the China Sharks for the opportunity to play there and the Worcester Sharks organization for helping making this dream possible. I cannot say enough to thank Doug Wilson, my Sharks teammates and the entire San Jose organization for giving me the opportunity to bring this dream to fruition. In my heart, I will forever be a San Jose Shark."
Goodbye again Claude, your name will remain in the halls of hockey for years to come and beyond.