One year after he left the once friendly locales of the Pacific coast, former Vancouver Canuck captain Markus Naslund has decided the time to retire has come.
Naslund left the Canucks last season, heading for the bright lights and charms of New York City, playing a supporting but diminishing role with the Rangers as they played middle of the pack for most of the season.
With an ultimately disappointing playoff series now behind him, the 15 year NHL veteran decided to forgo the final year of his Rangers contract and move on to the next phase of his life away from the daily on ice requirements of the NHL.
While he finished his days a Ranger, and began them as a Penguin, it was as a Vancouver Canuck that he will be best remembered, part of a core group of Canucks that came close to the long cherished dream of a Stanley Cup parade down Robson street, but came up just a little short and then a little out of time for the assembled group.
His years with Vancouver had many highs and a few lows, the highs a Stanley Cup run a few years ago, and perhaps the lowest his association all be it on the peripheral with the infamous Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident.
It was a Moore hit on Naslund in a previous game, which became the fulcrum for events that changed a number of careers, the most dramatically of course that of Steve Moore.
Ever since that event, it seemed as though Naslund was never the same in a Canucks uniform, his final season a disappointing one as the Canucks were eliminated from playoff contention last year and changes clearly seemed on the horizon.
His departure for New York City was not an unexpected development, though more than a few Canuck fans felt that he should have retired a Canuck. Now the debate will go on in Vancouver as to whether he should have his number retired by the team, a prospect that seems to have provided for mixed results thus far as Canuck fans try to weigh the criteria for such an honour.
Regardless of how that should play out, the Canucks most likely will honour their former captain in some way next season, 11 years does suggest that some kind of tribute need to be paid to a player who provided for some exciting hockey on a team that a times struggled to find its way and at others tantalized their fans with what could have been.
Canwest News-- Rangers' Naslund retires from NHL
Globe and Mail-- Naslund makes retirement official
New York Times-- Classy to His Last Day, Markus Naslund Retires
24 Hours Vancouver-- Nazzy retires from NHL