In what will likely be considered a non-shocking turn of events, on Friday morning, a statement released by Rick Nash and his agency, Top Shelf Sports Management, made the announcement that he is retiring from the game of professional hockey. The statement read:
Due to unresolved issues/symptoms from the concussion sustained last March, Rick Nash will be forced to retire from the game of hockey. Under the advice of his medical team, the risk of further brain injury is far too great if Rick returns to play. Rick would like to thank everyone who has supported him during this difficult time period.
The announcement brings an end to any speculation that Nash might return to the NHL, even in a shorter time-frame to make another playoff run with a team he had some history with in the past.
Statement on behalf of client Rick Nash: pic.twitter.com/DekEvhSevy
— Top Shelf Hockey (@Topshelf_TSSM) January 11, 2019
Aaron Portzline, a reporter for The Athletic, noted on Friday after the news broke, “Fully believe Rick Nash would have played again for Blue Jackets if his concussion symptoms had faded. That was his preference. Had a great meeting with
#CBJ brass last summer.” Portzline went on to add that while that would have been a great story, he believes Nash made the right call and didn’t rule out the possibility he could one day return if he ever felt 100 percent again.
Was He Ready to Retire?
Throughout the summer and after free agency kicked off on July 1, 2018, there was plenty of discussion as to where Nash might land as a free agent. But, right around the time free agency began, Nash let general managers and the hockey world know not to wait for him to make a decision. He wasn’t ready to commit to any team because there was uncertainty as to his future in hockey.
Even up to October, when word had spread that Nash was filling out paperwork to officially retire from the NHL, quickly thereafter, sources started suggesting that information was false.
Darren Dreger reported that Rick Nash’s agent Joe Resnick said, “There is no truth to the tweet that Rick Nash is retiring today. Our position has not changed since July 1.” At that time, Portzline had held an exclusive interview with Nash where Nash said:
“But my family is what’s most important to me, and I have to get my health in the right spot before I figure out what my plans are, and I don’t know when that will be. There’s a chance I could get healthy, come back and be great. But there’s definitely a chance that I don’t.”
source – ‘Rick Nash waiting for concussion symptoms to fade before he decides on NHL future’ – The Athletic – Aaron Portzline – 10/09/2018
Clearly, since October, Nash has come to realize that things are not better. He’s not healthy enough to play and that for sake of his family, he’s best to call it a career.
What a Career it Was
Nash, 34, was taken first overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2002 NHL Draft and despite some high-end players being part of that organization, is still is the franchise’s all-time leader in every major offensive category. Over the course of his NHL career — which spanned 1,060 NHL games with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins — Nash scored 437 goals and 805 points.
Between 2003 and 2017, there was only one season in which Nash didn’t score 20 goals or more in a single season and during the 2003-04 season, Nash scored 41 to share the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal-scorer with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Nash is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning in 2010 and 2014 with Team Canada. At the time of his retirement, he was third among active NHL players in goals. He was known as a great player and a better guy.