Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Jamie Heward officially retires from the NHL

From Tuesday's Leader-Post

NHLer Jamie Heward retires and has eye on working for the Regina Pats

By GREG HARDER, Leader-Post May 31, 2010 Be the first to post a comment

REGINA — Jamie Heward is ready to move on — not move away.

The 39-year-old Reginan is officially retiring after a long career which included 18 pro seasons, 394 NHL games and numerous international appearances with Canada, including gold medals at the 2003 and 2004 IIHF world championships.

Heward sat out all of last season after suffering a major concussion midway through the 2008-09 campaign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He considered accepting an offer to play one more year in Europe but has decided instead to pursue the next phase of his hockey career — which he hopes is right here in Regina.

"I was actually sitting down (Sunday) with my wife and I said, 'We should probably phone the NHLPA and make it official and move on,' " Heward said Monday. "I realize with my injury and having to take the year off, it would be too hard to come back. It's just time."

Heward's decision was solidified last week after an informal interview with Regina Pats president Brent Parker, who at the time was searching for his own replacement as general manager. Although Heward expressed interest in the job, he's eager to discuss a support role with new GM Chad Lang.

Heward does have other options — he has already been approached about an NHL scouting role — and will consider anything that allows him to stay in Regina, but his preference is to work for the Pats.

"My interest is definitely still there," said Heward, who phoned Lang on Friday to congratulate him. "Chad and I have known each other for a long time. I'm excited at the prospect of Chad getting the job and doing a good job. I'm not sure where Chad wants to go as far as hiring and that kind of thing. He's still trying to evaluate everybody in the organization. Once he makes those decisions I'm sure we'll sit down and talk. If I don't (fit in the plans), I don't. But I'd love to work with him and see where it leads."

If/when the Pats bring Heward on board, it won't be strictly as an assistant coach. He's expected to receive an expanded role after getting his feet wet last season helping the coaches during home games and practices.

"It's tough (not playing anymore) but it kind of eases the sting when I can still work in hockey and stay involved at some capacity," said the Pats' alumnus. "I enjoyed working with (head coach) Curtis (Hunt) and (assistant Shaun Sutter) and Brent last year. If I wouldn't have done that I don't know what I would have done. I would have gone crazy. I told Brent, 'In a way, you made my decision a little bit easier regarding retirement, the fact that I could see this was something I wanted to do.' "

Parker is expected to commit additional resources to the hockey department this season, which likely includes creating a new position such as assistant GM or director of player development. Regardless of the title, Heward is willing to be the team's "jack of all trades" — coach, administrator, scout, you name it. Although he admits to having a lot to learn, Heward's hockey pedigree and credentials give him a solid foundation from which to build.

"I'd really like to learn the business side and learn what goes on behind the scenes," he added. "Chad would be a great guy to learn from. Brent is still there as president. He'd be a good guy to learn from. And then I'd still have the ability to go out and talk to their young prospects and do follow-ups with them and watch them and make sure they're developing the right way and still be able to go on the ice and help Curtis and Suttsy out. It's something that has maybe never been done before (by the Pats). I'm not going to be ridiculously expensive. I'm not doing it for the money or the glory. I live here and I want to stay here and keep my family here. Whatever they need me to do."

gharder@leaderpost.canwest.com

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