Ben Lovejoy has announced his retirement after an 11-season, 554-game NHL career.
Appearing as a guest analyst on NHL Network Wednesday night, the 35-year-old Lovejoy was happy to be moving on to the next chapter of his life.
“I’m very done. I’m very proud of my career, very honored to have played for so long. It couldn’t have gone any better. It was a childhood dream come true. But it was hard,” Lovejoy said. “I wasn’t good enough to just lace up the skates and go play. I had to make it a lifestyle, and I feel like about a million-pound weight is off my shoulders right now. I’m really, really excited to be done.”
Undrafted out of Dartmouth College, Lovejoy started his professional career in the American Hockey League with the Norfolk Admirals and then the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. His play earned him a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007 and his NHL career was under way.
Lovejoy didn’t play in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but was a part of the Penguins’ “Black Aces” as the franchise won its third championship. Seven years later, however, he played all 24 postseason games as they won the first of back-to-back titles in 2016. He signed with the New Jersey Devils that offseason and was there until last February when he was dealt to the Dallas Stars.
Lovejoy’s lasting impact on the game came in Dec. 2017 when he became the first active NHL player to pledge to to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation to support Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and concussion research. Since then, former men’s and women’s players Shawn McEachern, Angela Ruggiero, Hayley Wickenheiser, A. J. Mleczko, Bob Sweeney and Ted Drury have joined Lovejoy in pledging to donate their brains to the CLF.
“I hope I live until I’m 90-plus years old and concussion issues and CTE are cured long before my brain is looked at by the doctors,” Lovejoy said. “I am lucky. I have had very little head trauma throughout my career. But I have had teammates, both high profile stars and minor role players, who have struggled with concussions. By pledging to donate my brain, I hope it helps the team at Concussion Legacy Foundation and their collaborators at Boston University and the VA continue their work to cure concussions and CTE.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.