Some unfortunate news out of Florida this evening:
Center Joe Nieuwendyk, one of the most accomplished players ever to wear a Florida Panthers uniform, announced his retirement today.
Nieuwendyk, 40, had missed 14 of 29 games this season because of back problems.
He said he made the decision after being advised to retire by a back specialist he visited last week at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
"It's always very hard to walk away, but I was told that this is the best thing for my future," he said before the team's practice at Incredible Ice.
Very quietly, Nieuwendyk had an outstanding career, and was sitting in 10th among active players with 1,257 career games played before calling it quits — no small feat given how chronically injured he was. Nieuwendyk ended up playing 70 games or more just three times in his last 13 seasons.
Internationally, he was a key defensive cog as part of Canada's Olympic entries in 1998 and 2002 (as seen above), and he won a silver medal with the 1986 world junior tournament.
He finishes his career 19th in NHL goal scoring with 564, and tied with Mike Bossy for 49th with 1,126 points. He has a career points-per-game percentage of .896 and would have easily hit the 600-goal mark with more games played in his prime.
Nieuwendyk won the Calder Trophy in 1988 with a 51 goal, 92 point rookie season, and then captured the Conn Smythe 11 years later with the Dallas Stars at the age of 32. He's also won the Stanley Cup three times with three different teams.
And now he's off to the Hall of Fame.