"Sometimes friends come and save
you," Roenick said of his former Chicago teammate. "Just when I thought
that it was all over, Doug Wilson asked me to fly to San Jose and talk
about playing for the Sharks. He asked me if I could still play the
game and I told him I know I could still play."
Roenick recalled that story on Thursday, announcing his retirement as an NHL player after 20 years in the league.
"In Phoenix, I wasn't able to say
goodbye to the game," Roenick said. "Doug Wilson and the San Jose
Sharks gave me my life back. I can sit here and make my own decision to
hang them up and move on."
Roenick, choking up throughout his
farewell speech, leaves the game as one of four American players who scored 500
or more goals. He scored 513 overall to rank 36th.
"This is a great day for me," Roenick
said. "I had the greatest career I could possibly imagine. My body
can't do it any more even though my head and my passion are still in
the game. I know, truly in my heart, it's time to leave the game."
Roenick also had 703 assists, 46th
all time, in 1,363 regular-season games with the Chicago Blackhawks,
Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Sharks.
Roenick scored 53 goals and 69
assists in 154 games with the Blackhawks, Coyotes, Flyers and Sharks in
the Stanley Cup playoffs. His six goals in Game 7s is tied for second
He played with the 1991 Chicago team
that captured the Presidents' Trophy and went to the Stanley Cup Final.
Roenick contributed to the 2004 Philadelphia team that went to the
Eastern Conference Final.
He's one of 24 players with at least 500 goals and 700 assists, and 17 of them are in the Hall of Fame.
Roenick was a nine-time all-star and
a two-time Olympian. He scored his 500th goal in San Jose and then
hoisted his son, Brett, on his shoulder and skated around the ice.
"That was a real moment," Wilson said.
Several of his Sharks' teammates of
the past two seasons were in attendance. Many former NHL teammates,
including Mike Modano, Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk called in during
the announcement to extend their congratulations.
"He is one of the greatest hockey
players to play this game," Wilson said. "He played hard. He was
fearless. He'd go through the wall. I've had guys come up to me and say
he was the greatest teammate they ever had."
As a kid growing up in Hartford, Conn., Roenick would watch the Whalers work out.
"I'd lean my head over the glass and
watch these guys," Roenick said. "Once, when I was seven years old,
Gordie Howe got a bunch of snow on his stick, skated over and dumped it
on my head. I thought that was the coolest thing and I've always
carried that with me.
"He skated around a little more,
then looked at me and winked. For three seconds it was just me and
Gordie Howe. That small amount of gratitude resonated my whole life. It
was a gift to me and when I reached the NHL, I made sure to acknowledge
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