The last time Sami Salo stepped on NHL ice for the Tampa Bay Lightning was on April 18, 2014, in a playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens. He skated 11 minutes and 19 seconds, to a minus-1. Turns out, was a reticent conclusion to a notable career.
Salo told Finnish media on Wednesday that his chronic wrist injury has forced him to retire from professional hockey. Well, that and being at that age where a lot of hockey players retire.
"The hand is what it is. I'm no longer able to play, not ice hockey and tennis. At least not professionally. The truth is that I am 40 years old and I have not played for years,” Salo told Ilta-Sanomat in an interview.
Salo missed the entire 2014-15 season with a bum wrist, became an unrestricted free agent and had surgery in Oct. 2014 that many felt signaled the end of his career.
He still had several teams inquiring about his services last fall, but Salo told them that he was “not fit to play” and wanted to see if surgery could correct his wrist issue. Alas, it didn’t, and Salo said ‘so long.’
He played 878 games with the Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and most notably the Vancouver Canucks, for whom he skated in 566 regular season games and took part in their 2011 run to the Stanley Cup Final. He played in 102 playoff games, scoring 31 points; he had 339 points during his NHL career.
(Of course, we must note the irony in an injury ending Salo's career, being that he never played 82 games in a season during his NHL days.)
Wyatt Arndt had a nice look back at Salo’s career last season, including one of the greatest chants ever bestowed upon a Canucks player: The “BALLS OF STEEL” 2010 playoff game salute to Salo, who reportedly ruptured a testicle in the previous game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Let it never be said that Sami Salo didn't have the stones to compete in the NHL. No wonder Brad Marchand had to protect himself from that menace.
Fare thee well, Sami.
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