Stars announce that Ben Bishop’s NHL career is over

Stars announce that Ben Bishop's NHL career is over
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Tough news from the Dallas Stars on Saturday: Ben Bishop‘s career appears to be over. After a lengthy bid to rehab a knee injury, including a brief stint in the AHL, it sounds like that issue forced Bishop to retire.

“It’s a huge loss for us and a tough day for Ben, a tough few days,” Stars GM Jim Nill said, via NHL.com. “Really, it’s been tough for him for more than a year, trying to rehab this. He’s felt good, he’s felt bad, but always hoping it would come back. But in the end, this is the way it goes.”

With that, Bishop’s contract will remain in LTIR (his $4.9167M cap hit [$3.5M total salary each season] runs through 2022-23).

Stars announce that knee injury forces Ben Bishop to retire

Jim Nill notes that, “after one game, (Bishop) could tell” that he wouldn’t be able to play because of those knee issues.

Back in October 2020, Ben Bishop underwent surgery for a torn MCL in his right knee. Since then, Bishop’s made multiple comeback bids with the Stars, but he clearly wasn’t able to overcome those injuries.

In the end, you can summarize Ben Bishop’s NHL career with two recurring themes: 1) strong, sometimes underrated goaltending and 2) injuries. Perhaps one of the things that made Bishop stand out (his size, listed at 6-foot-7) also made it more difficult for him to shake off injuries. Unfortunately, lower-body injuries have plagued Bishop for much of his stellar career.

It seemed like the Stars were holding out hope for Ben Bishop to eventually return, although it was telling that they added Braden Holtby to a mix that already included Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

“It hurts,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said, via the Dallas Morning News. “I feel terrible for him because he’s such a great person and as I’ve always said, when he’s on, he’s a top three goalie in the league. He took us to the Finals in Tampa. When you go that far, you have a special bond.

“I’ve always felt very close with Bish. I’m devastated for him and his family, I know he wants to play. It’s just a very, very unfortunate thing that’s happened.”

When healthy, Bishop was great

During 11 NHL seasons (most memorably with the Lightning and Stars; also short stays with Blues, Senators, Kings), Bishop played over 400 NHL games. He went 222-128-36 with a fantastic .921 save percentage.

Some felt compelled to minimize Bishop’s accomplishments, particularly when he was part of some strong Lightning teams (and stout Stars defenses).

Bishop absolutely put together some seasons worthy of the elite label, though.

By Hockey Reference’s version of GSAA, Bishop saved a whopping 94.2 goals above average. Bishop topped that category twice (19 GSAA in 2015-16, and a ridiculous 32 in 2018-19), and was in the top 10 during four seasons.

Bishop put up great numbers; he wasn’t just a product of his environment.

There’s also evidence that Ben Bishop was “clutch.” During four playoff runs (52 postseason games), Bishop generated a tremendous .924 save percentage.

If only Bishop could stay healthy.

As much as there’s a question of “what if?,” Ben Bishop can retire with his head high. He put together a heck of a career.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.