After 15 years with the Detroit Red Wings, defenseman Nicklas Kronwall announced his retirement from playing on Tuesday. He also announced that he will be transitioning into a front office role with the club.
A formidable force whose hits were feared on the ice, he had a humble off-ice demeanor that proved as a beacon of leadership in the clubhouse. He is one of four Assistant Captains that rotated the “C”. After Henrik Zetterberg was forced to retire with lingering back issues, it was widely assumed that he would take over the full responsibility prior to Tuesday’s announcement.
His announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise, however. After suffering from knee problems for the last few seasons, as well as a host of other random injuries, he simply came to the conclusion that his body was not up to another season of punishing hits.
Legacy and the future
As far as his legacy is concerned, he will rank as one the top defenseman to wear the winged wheel. He ends his career having played 953 games. That ranks him 3rd overall in franchise history for games played. And he trails only Red Kelly, Reed Larson, and former line mate Nicklas Lidstrom for overall points for defenseman. Not too shabby of company to keep.
Although his presence on the ice will certainly be missed, he’s not disappearing completely. He will continue to be in a leadership role while serving as a special assistant to new GM Steve Yzerman.
Plus, my dad says he’s a nice guy when he comes into the ice rink where he works (shout-out to the Birmingham Parks dept). So maybe this new job will allow for more time for them to get to know each other.
In all seriousness though, I’m sure I speak for most Red Wings fans when I extend the most sincerest of thanks to you, Nick. We are as proud to have had you wear the Winged Wheel as you were.