New Jersey Devils left wing Patrik Elias (26) is escorted off the ice. File photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo
Forward Patrik Elias, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the New Jersey Devils, announced Friday he is retiring after 20 seasons in the NHL, all for the same team.
The Devils said they will retire the all-time leading scorer's No. 26 at a home game next season. He will join Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Martin Brodeur as the fifth player in team history to have his number retired.
The Devils also will celebrate "Patrik Elias Week" over the final three home games this season. Elias will drop the ceremonial puck on April 4 and will participate in warm-ups during the April 8 home finale against the New York Islanders.
"After 18 (full) seasons, I am pleased to announce that I will be retiring from the National Hockey League, having played my last game with the New Jersey Devils," Elias said in a statement. "For the past few months, I have weighed this decision both physically and mentally. I am happy to say this provides me and my family with closure.
"I came here 22 years ago to play hockey -- to do what I loved since I was 5 years old. I was able to play with great teammates, embrace the camaraderie and team spirit of being a Devil, and bring home a Stanley Cup on two occasions. I want to thank the ownership and management for not only supporting me, but allowing me the time to make this difficult decision. It is extraordinarily humbling that my number 26 will hang next to four of my former teammates. I am so proud to have played for one team, one organization over the course of my entire career. I want to also thank my family and friends.
"Off the ice, you grow great relationships, and I've been here 22 years. I've been welcomed into the community and New Jersey has truly become a second home to me and my family. To the fans, it is nice to know how much I meant to them, and I want them to know how much they have meant to me. I am looking forward to this week, my last lap and next year's celebration. Lastly, I want to express my love and thanks to my parents, my lovely wife, Petra, and my beautiful daughters, Sophia and Kaila."
Elias has not played since last April 9 when he had a goal and two assists in the Devils' season finale, a 5-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wanted to return for another season but underwent cartilage replacement surgery on his right knee on May 11, the second surgery on that knee in four months.
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 Czech Republic native 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 with six.
Elias was drafted in the second round (51st overall) by the Devils in 1994, winning two Stanley Cups (2000, 2003) and appearing in four All-Star Games. He also represented Czech Republic in international play, winning a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
"Time flies. Some great years, successful years," Elias said in a video on the team's website. "Some rough years, but it all brought us here. It's a long relationship. I've been here 23 years so this has been my second home. ... You hear it on a nightly basis, not just here around the rink, but in the towns, in New Jersey and anywhere you go, you still get recognized. That tells you how much you meant to (the fans), and obviously they meant a tremendous amount to me to have their support."