Rick Nash’s hockey career is finished, done in by a concussion he suffered during a brief run with the Bruins to end last season.
“Due to unresolved issues/symptoms from the concussion sustained last March, Rick Nash will be forced to retire from the game of hockey,” Nash’s agent, Joe Resnick, said in a statement released Thursday morning. “Under the advice of his medical team, the risk of further brain injury is far too great if Rick returns to play. Rick would like to thank everyone who has supported him during this difficult time period.”
The 34-year-old was among the stars to move at the 2017-18 NHL trade deadline, but played just 23 games for Boston and was largely ineffective in the playoffs. The concussion, suffered on a high hit from Tampa’s Cedric Paquette on March 17, all but certainly played a part in that.
Nash missed the final 12 games of the regular season, but returned to average 16 minutes nightly in the playoffs, playing in all 12 games. He posted 3-2—5 totals, but wasn’t the presence centering the second line that he was acquired to be as Tampa eliminated the Bruins in five games.
The Bruins spent big to get Nash, sending the Rangers forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, defense prospect Ryan Lindgren, and a pair of draft picks, including their first rounder last summer. The concussion, however, short circuited a deal that both sides were excited about making.
An unrestricted free agent after the season, Nash showed interest in coming back to the Bruins, but announced in June he was sitting out the start of the free-agent signing period. Amid rumors in October that he’d submitted his retirement paperwork with the NHL, Nash told The Athletic that “I have to get my health in the right spot before I figure out what my plans are, and I don’t know when that will be. There’s a chance I could get healthy, come back and be great. But there’s definitely a chance that I don’t.”
The story noted Nash suffered at least three concussions in his career. Milan Lucic was responsible for one of them, via a 2013 check into the glass during Nash’s time with the Rangers.
Drafted No. 1 overall by Columbus in 2002, Nash played 15 NHL seasons and his 437 regular-season goals are fourth in that period, trailing only Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla and Patrick Marleau. His 674 regular-season games with the Blue Jackets remains a franchise record, and he’s the runaway leader in nearly every scoring category by a wide margin.
Traded after the 2011-12 season to the Rangers, he similarly led the team in scoring in his 5 1/2 seasons there, but rarely shone in the playoffs, finishing his career with just 15 playoff goals and 26 assists in 77 games. He did win gold at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics with Team Canada, as well as a 2007 world championship.