One of the games hardest-hitting and hardest-working players is hanging up his skates.
Niklas Kronwall is retiring after 15 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, the only team he’s ever known after being drafted 29th overall in 2000.
Some 953 games later, with a Stanley Cup bearing his name and some of the biggest hits hockey has ever seen captured on video, Kronwall will move on from the game on the ice and into the Red Wings front office as their new advisor to general manager Steve Yzerman.
“I was a 22-year-old kid when I came over from Sweden,” Kronwall said in a retirement video posted to the Red Wings’ Twitter account. “Now at 38, I have my own family here. Detroit has become home for us. This franchise, this city and the people of Michigan has shaped me into who I am today.”
Kronwall’s career finished with 83 goals and 349 assists. In 109 playoff games, he added another five goals and 42 assists.
Away from the Red Wings, Kronwall won Olympic gold in 2006 and finished with a silver medal in 2014.
Kronwall said his best memory of playing for the Red Wings was their 2008 Stanley Cup triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We’re going to get back there,” he said. “I just won’t be a player when it happens next time.”
For fans, getting “Kronwalled” meant some of the most bone-jarring hits ever seen, perhaps none more devastating of his 1,081 career thumps than this one Martin Havlat in 2009.