DENVER - Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Konowalchuk announced Friday that he's retiring from the game of hockey after a 13-season career in the National Hockey League.
Konowalchuk made this decision official after undergoing an additional series of tests relating to his heart condition. This condition was detected during medical tests that all Avalanche players underwent prior to the start of training camp. Results from a standard EKG test revealed an abnormal reading.
"In Steve's case, the abnormal reading prompted further tests which revealed he has Long QT Syndrome, a genetic disease involving electrical conduction which can lead to irregular heart rhythms," said Dr. Steve Friedrich, Avalanche cardiologist. "These findings were confirmed through a series of tests that Steve underwent at the University of Rochester Cardiac Center in New York, which runs an international LQTS registry and is a research center for the syndrome. Steve and the physicians in Rochester conferred with multiple national centers in order to form a consensus regarding his condition."
"After a complete evaluation from a number of different physicians and experts associated with this condition, we decided that this was the best and only alternative for me," said Konowalchuk. "As much as I'll miss the game of hockey and all that it's provided for my family and I, my health was the number one priority.
"This has been a very painful process, but I'm very proud of a long NHL career and happy to have a lifetime of special memories and friends to take with me."
"Steve is a true professional and will be known for playing the game as it should be played - with passion and a strong commitment to his team and his teammates," said Avalanche Executive Vice President and General Manager Francois Giguere. "We will treat him with great respect, the same way he treated the organization since his arrival here in Colorado.
"Our organization will support Steve and his family any way we can," added Giguere.
Konowalchuk, 33, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah was originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the third round, 58th overall, in the 1991 Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Avalanche from the Capitals along with the Captals' third selection in the 2004 Entry Draft in exchange for Bates Battaglia and the rights to Jonas Johansson on October 22, 2003. Over his 13 NHL seasons, he appeared in 790 NHL contests, amassing 171 goals and 225 assists. He made 52 NHL playoff appearances tallying 21 points (9g/12a).
In addition to his NHL career, Konowalchuk represented the United States in World Cup (1996, 2004) and World Championship (2000, 2002) competition.