Longtime New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias announced on Friday he will retire from the NHL after 21 seasons, all with the Devils. The Devils made the announcement on their twitter page.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 31, 2017
Elias, now 40, spent his entire career as a New Jersey Devil after being selected 51st overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Elias won two Stanley Cups with the Devils, serving as a major contributor on the Devils 2000 and 2003 championship squads.
While never considered an elite scorer, only topping 30 goals three times in his career. He was, however, very consistent offensively, tallying at least 50 points in 14 of his 21 seasons in the NHL. Elias will retire as the Devils all time leader in points (1025), goals (408), and assists (617).
Elias has not played since April 9th, 2016, almost a full year ago. After needing cartilage surgery in his right knee and not being signed to a contract, Elias decided after months of rehab he would not be able to continue his career. Elias commented on the decision to Devils color analyst Ken Daneyko.
Comments via the teams official website:
“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.
“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.”
While its a tough decision for Elias, he told NHL.com he is glad there was time to make a decision.
“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 will get to skate with the Devils one more time, when he takes the ice for the pregame warmup prior to the teams final home game of the season, April 8th. The Devils will then retire Elias’ number 26 next season, joining Devils greats Danyeko (NO. 3), Scott Stevens (NO. 4), Scott Niedermayer (NO. 27), and Martin Brodeur (NO. 30) with their numbers hanging in the rafters of the Prudential Center.