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@ JOE LOUIS ARENA:
Veteran Red Wings DEF Brian Rafalski
announced his retirement at a late
Wednesday morning media gathering.
The 37-year old Dearborn, MICH native
still had a year to go on his 5-year/$30-million
The Red Wings will get $6-million in salary
cap space next season created by Rafalski's
decision to hang up his skates after 11 NHL
Rafalski won two Stanley Cups in seven
seasons with the New Jersey Devils, then another (2008) in four Detroit
campaigns after inking a free agent deal with his hometown team.
Injuries were a large factor in forcing Rafalski's retirement. He
underwent back surgery last summer and arthroscopic knee surgery in
October, 2010. However, back spasms during the regular season and a
sore knee in the playoffs continued to hinder his play.
FORMERE RED WING BRIAN RAFALSKI: "This was probably the most challenging
season of my career, physically, mentally and spiritually, but it was also the
most rewarding...The decision was made between myself and my wife approximately
two months ago. We went through a long process of weighing different factors in
our lives and at the end of the day it came down to priorities, with the top three
priorities being serving God, serving my family and serving others. With hockey not
being at the top, it's time for me to move on...We took all factors into account, we
looked at every aspect of our lives. My oldest son being a freshman next year in high
school was a big factor. What I'll be doing, first and foremost, is serving my family.
I'll definitely be looking to help others. I don't know what that's going to entail yet.
As far as the money goes, there's more important things now...The injuries took a
toll. There wasn't a day this year that I wasn't on the training table. That gets tiring.
But at the same time the training staff did an excellent job. I wasn't able to skate the
way I'd like to."'
RED WINGS GM KEN HOLLAND: "[Rafalski's signing] turned out to be absolutely a
great move for both sides. I'm not sure if we win the Cup in '08 without Brian Rafalski.
He was that important to us...Not only was he a real good player, he was a perfect fit
for Nick Lidstrom, he was a right shot, the two of them were as good a tandem as
there was in the NHL...It's going to be a real tough loss for us but I'm happy for him,
he's made a difficult decision for the right reasons.''
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