San Jose Sharks captain Rob Blake is set to retire after 20 years in the National Hockey League. As one of the NHL’s top defenders, Blake will make his announcement on Friday.
Blake had hinted at retirement after his Sharks were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks. He noted that he had made a decision regarding his future but wanted to wait a few weeks to make sure that he was making the right call.
With a few weeks having elapsed, it looks like Blake’s storied career is coming to an end. On a more practical level for the Sharks, his departure means that the team will have to do a little more reshuffling this summer. Patrick Marleau and starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov are both eligible for UFA status come July 1 and there’s little indication as to the team’s future direction.
On its larger level, the Blake retirement means an end to one of the league’s finest defensive careers. Closing the book on it at 40, he has to be satisfied with a career that involved tenures in Colorado, Los Angeles and San Jose. He made seven All-Star teams and collected the Norris Trophy as a King in 1998.
Blake is 10th on the career scoring list with 240 goals as a defenceman. He won a Cup with the Avalanche in 2001, adding a gold medal with Canada the following year and moving on to help the Sharks post tremendous regular season records in both of his seasons there.
Blake’s role as a leader goes without saying, as he and Chris Pronger are perhaps hockey’s most respected voices along the blueline. His physical impact on the game will be missed, too, as will his calm control of tricky defensive situations. Blake can retire now and safely say that he left the game when he was still among the best at his position.
A shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, Blake finishes his career with 537 assists and 777 points.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.