ISLANDERS' SILLINGER EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE RETIREMENT
8/26/2009 12:38:59 PM
After 17 NHL seasons with 12 clubs, it appears that journeyman forward Mike Sillinger is ready to call it a career.
The New York Islanders and general manager Garth Snow have called a news conference for Wednesday afternoon where it is expected that Sillinger will announce his retirement.
The Regina, Saskatchewan native, 38, played 1,049 NHL games since being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round (11th overall) of the 1989 Entry Draft. His most prolific season came in 2006-07 with the Islanders when he had 26 goals and 33 assists.
Overall, he compiled 240 goals and 548 points. He was traded 10 times during his career, including twice in one day in July, 2003.
In addition to the Red Wings and Islanders, Sillinger suited up for Anaheim, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Nashville.
Edit: It's official. Silly has called it a career.
Regina's Mike Sillinger retires after long NHL career
By Greg Harder, Leader-PostAugust 26, 2009 9:35 PM
REGINA — Mike Sillinger couldn't be more at peace with his decision to walk away from the NHL — while he still can.
The veteran centre has been on the limp for nearly two years due to chronic hip problems which required three surgeries — two on the left, one on the right — and will likely force him to undergo a replacement procedure later in life. As a result, Sillinger felt the time was right to announce his retirement on Wednesday, realizing the wear and tear of 17 pro seasons had caught up to him and might affect his quality of life down the road.
"It's the most logical decision to make," offered the 38-year-old Regina native, who has a titanium ball and joint in his left hip. "If I continue playing, best-case scenario, I sneak through another year. Worst-case scenario, I'm having a hip replacement before I'm 40 years old. There's no way a 40-year-old should have a hip replacement. I've had a great career and I have to move forward. It's a sad day but it's the start of a new beginning for our whole family. Am I going to miss hockey? Of course. Am I happy with my decision? There was no decision. My decision was made easy for me, but I'm content with what I'm doing. I really feel solid that I gave it all I had for all those years."
Asked what he'll miss most, Sillinger was quick to mention "the guys in the locker room." He also loved going to work each day.
"The locker room was my office," he said. "I was at the rink early, I was the last one to leave. I enjoyed going to the rink. It's something I'm going to miss a lot."
As for a career highlight, Sillinger named three: Winning a gold medal with Canada at the 1991 world juniors in Saskatoon, winning a Calder Cup title the next year in his first pro season with the AHL's Adirondack Red Wings, and playing his 1,000th NHL game on Nov. 1, 2007, with the New York Islanders.
Sillinger will also have the distinction of retiring as an NHL record-holder — he's the only player in league history to suit up for 12 different teams. Asked if he's hoping the record will soon fall, Sillinger laughed, adding that he chooses to look at the positive. His skills were always in demand.
"I like that record," he said. "It's something I took a lot of pride in. I think that's why I lasted so long. I always had a positive attitude. The day you feel sorry for yourself in the National Hockey League is the day someone is going to take your job. You're playing a game and you're playing the best players in the world. Who wouldn't want to be in your shoes? As far as being on 12 teams, 20 teams, 50 teams, I don't care. I was a piece of the puzzle everywhere I went."
Known as an effective two-way centre — and one of the league's premier face-off man — Sillinger's skills were typically a hot commodity at the annual trade deadline. But he was also coveted for his presence in the locker room.
"Everyone has to find their niche because there's such a fine line between making it and not making it," he noted. "I broke in with the right team (because Detroit was so deep). What it made me was not only a complete player but a complete package. I took a lot of pride in being a great teammate. I learned that in Detroit playing with the (Steve) Yzermans and (Paul) Coffeys and the list goes on the Hall of Famers that I played with. Those guys were not only great hockey players but they were great people. That's what I tried to mould myself after."
Like fine wine, Sillinger also got better with age. A scoring star with the WHL's Regina Pats, it wasn't until later in his career that Sillinger hit his stride offensively, recording a career-high 32 goals and 63 points in 2005-06 — at age 34.
"I really realized during the lockout (in 2004-05) that this isn't going to last forever so you want to cherish it," he added. "I'm really, really thankful for playing such a long time and at such a high level. I'm going out on top. Yeah, I haven't won a Stanley Cup — that's the ultimate goal — but I played over 1,000 games and had a lot of great accomplishments and every year I got better. I think that's because I didn't take the game for granted."
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