The 37 year old defenseman, Brian Rafalski, announced his retirement Yesterday, May 25th. The 5 foot 10, 3 time Stanley Cup winner began his slow moving career playing in the Big Ten Athletic Conference for the Wisconsin Badgers for four years. From then, Rafalski played for three different teams in Scandinavia, before returning to the US in 1999 to face the world's toughest competition in the NHL. After recording 311 points and wining two Stanley Cups as a New Jersey Devil, he later signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007-2008 season and went on to win his third Stanley Cup, as a rookie of the Motor City organization.
The US olympian was offered $6 million to stay with the historically prestigious hockey club, however Rafalski declined the offer to spend more quality time with his wife and three children.
Rafalski's decision to retire was speculated during the middle of the season due to his continuous absence from the roster. His injury-plagued season resulted in him missing nearly half of the season due to knee and back injuries. The Michigan native will be dearly missed by the entire Detroit Red Wing organization.
With a pivotal defenseman retiring from the Detroit lineup, will this be the beginning of the end for the Detroit hockey club? No. Of course not. This crucial change in the lineup could definitely effect, 6 time Norris Trophy winner, Nicklas Lidstrom's decision to return to Hockey Town next fall or return to his mother country of Sweden for good, but early indications from Detroit Red Wing's head coach, Mike Babcock, points in the direction of another successful year for the 41 year old defenseman. The final decision will be announced as early as June 24th.