After getting offers as a free agent this offseason, 16-year NHL veteran scorer Cory Stillman is choosing to retire from hockey instead. Stillman scored 278 goals and had 727 points in 1,025 career games with the Flames, Blues, Lightning, Hurricanes and Panthers.
Mike Davies of The Peterborough Examiner says that Stillman’s post-playing career will see him heading back to Florida to join the Panthers organization.
Stillman, 37, will officially announce his retirement at a press conference Thursday in Florida where the Panthers will introduce him as a member of their player development staff. He will work under director of player development Brian Skrudland monitoring and working with Panthers prospects from the junior ranks to the minor pros.
“They asked when I was traded (from Florida to the Carolina Hurricanes at the NHL trade deadline) to let them know when I was done playing because they’d like to have me in the organization. It’s a good opportunity,” Stillman told The Examiner Wednesday night.
Stillman will leave the NHL feeling like he’s going out on his own terms as he also shared with The Examiner.
“I can walk away knowing I wasn’t pushed out the door,” Stillman said. “I could still play. When I got traded back to Carolina I was reunited with some guys and we had a good run at the end. In the end, I’m not old, but I’m getting a little older, I’ll be 38 in December, and I had a career I’m very happy with. Now it’s time to move on to be with my family.”
Getting to make the decision on his own terms was important to Stillman who has battled injuries in recent years.
“I love playing the game and still love the game a lot, but one door is closing and another door is opening. This allows me to stay in the game and be a part of an NHL team and help kids,” he said. “I can walk away with no regrets in this game.”
Stillman was always a solid depth scorer in the league and saw his heyday come in his one season in Tampa Bay and with Carolina. In 2003-2004 he helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup having his best professional season scoring 25 goals and adding 55 assists. After the lockout, he signed with the Hurricanes and helped Carolina win the Stanley Cup in 2005-2006 scoring 21 goals and chipping in another 55 assists.
Stillman was a great character guy and a guy who was a solid complimentary piece for any team he played for during his career. His role in helping both Tampa Bay and Carolina win their first (and only) Stanley Cups won’t be forgotten in either place. Stillman getting to finish his career in Carolina this past season and try to help them into the playoffs made for a nice coda for his playing career.
After battling injuries the last few seasons, Stillman found ways to still produce when called upon. He wasn’t always the biggest star, but when he was on and healthy, he was the ideal complementary player to have on your team.