Every year in the National Hockey League, there are players who hang up their skates, some more notable than others, and move on to the next chapter of their lives. It is the case of 36-year-old veteran and former 35-goal scorer Radim Vrbata, who officially played his last game at the BB&T Center, tonight.
Even though he still has one more game to play tomorrow, again the Boston Bruins, the organization congratulated him for his "stellar career" via their official Twitter account, tonight:
He also saluted the crowd during a commercial break:
Back in December, he told FanRag Sports journalist Craig Morgan that this season was most likely going to be his last. Here's what he said:
“This is probably my last season. Hockey-wise and how the body feels and family-wise with the kids, I’m not saying it 100 percent, but this is probably where it’s going to go. I’ll be 37 in the summer so I think it’s time. The first year would probably be adjusting to life in Czech for me and my wife and mostly the kids. Even though we go there every summer, we just spend two months there and then go to the states or Canada. It will be a little different. That first year, for sure, I want to take a break from everything and maybe coach my son’s (Krystof, 8) hockey team.”
The Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic native was selected in the seventh round of the 1999 NHL Draft. Since then, he played 1057 games with the Colorado Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Vancouver Canucks and the Florida Panthers.
Phoenix is where Vrbata would truly establish himself as an NHL player, and it's also where he played the majority of his 1057 career games. Not only did Vrbata demonstrate that he could be regularly be relied upon to pick up a handful of goals every season, but he even showed flashes of brilliance with the Coyotes.
His most notable season of course came when he recorded 35 goals in the 2011-2012 NHL season. He also amassed 31 goals three seasons later in Vancouver. Over the course of his 16-year career, he recorded a total of 285 goals and 339 assists, good for 623 points. He also added 18 points in 42 playoff games.