New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias, a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the club, has announced that he will retire from the National Hockey League. The team will retire the all-time leading scorer's no. 26 at a home game next season. The Devils will celebrate "Patrik Elias Week" over the final three home games including Patrik dropping the ceremonial puck on April 4, an open practice set for April 7 and Elias participating in warm-ups during the April 8 home finale.
To his fans, friends and family, Patrik released the following statement:
After 18 seasons, I am pleased to announce that I will be retiring from the National Hockey League, having played my last game with the New Jersey Devils. For the past few months, I have weighed this decision both physically and mentally. I am happy to say this provides me and my family with closure.
I came here 22 years ago to play hockey- to do what I loved since I was 5 years old. I was able to play with great teammates, embrace the camaraderie and team spirit of being a Devil, and bring home a Stanley Cup on two occasions.
I want to thank the ownership and management for not only supporting me, but allowing me the time to make this difficult decision. It is extraordinarily humbling that my number 26 will hang next to four of my former teammates. I am so proud to have played for one team, one organization over the course of my entire career.
I want to also thank my family and friends. Off the ice, you grow great relationships, and I've been here 22 years. I've been welcomed into the community and New Jersey has truly become a second home to me and my family.
To the fans, it is nice to know how much I meant to them, and I want them to know how much they have meant to me.
I am looking forward to this week, my last lap and next year's celebration.
Lastly, I want to express my love and thanks to my parents, my lovely wife, Petra, and my beautiful daughters, Sophia and Kaila.
The Devils have also announced that the team will retire Elias' No. 26 jersey prior to a home game next season. Additional details will be released at a later date. Elias will be the fifth player in franchise history to have his number retired, joining No. 4 Scott Stevens (February 3, 2006), No. 3 Ken Daneyko (March 24, 2006), No. 27 Scott Niedermayer (December 16, 2011) and No. 30 Martin Brodeur, whose jersey was raised to the Prudential Center rafters on February 9, 2016.
"Patrik Elias helped to create the foundation for what it means, and what it takes, to be a part of the New Jersey Devils organization," said Josh Harris, Managing Partner of the Devils and Prudential Center. "This moment marks the end of an incredible playing career, but we eagerly look forward to celebrating Patty's 21 seasons of excellence and the legacy he is leaving for generations to enjoy."
"With two Stanley Cups to his credit, Patrik is one of the most decorated Devils in team history and a player that defined two decades of fans in New Jersey," said David Blitzer, Co-Managing Partner of the Devils and Prudential Center. "Patty's demeanor and work ethic on the ice are only second to his character off the ice, and it will be a pleasure to honor a champion like him."
Elias will bid farewell to Devils' fans with one final skate on the Prudential Center ice during warm- ups before the team's final home game of the season on April 8 against the New York Islanders (6p.m.) at The Rock.
The Devils will honor Elias over the course of the final three home games April 4, April 6 and April 8, with special moments and tributes during each game. Elias will drop the ceremonial puck prior to the April 4 game vs. the Flyers, and on April 7, the Devils will hold an open practice for fans to watch Elias prepare with the team for the last time at the RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House.
Season Ticket Members will also have exclusive access to photo opportunities with Elias throughout the week. Additional information will be sent to Season Ticket Members via email, and fans can access details on events and opportunities at newjerseydevils.com/pattyslastlap.
Drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round with the 51st overall selection in the 1994 NHL Draft, Elias played all 18 full seasons of his NHL career in New Jersey, leading the team to two Stanley Cup Championships, in 2000 and 2003, two additional Stanley Cup Finals appearances, in 2001 and 2012, and four Eastern Conference titles.
Elias is the Devils' franchise leader in goals (408), assists (617) and points (1,025), and ranks third in games played with 1,240 behind only Ken Daneyko (1,283) and Martin Brodeur (1,259). He is also the Devils' single-season leader in points with 96 (2000-01), when he led the league in plus/minus and was also named to the NHL's First All-Star Team at left wing. Elias, a four-time All-Star, is the club's all-time playoff leader with 45 goals, 80 assists and 125 points, 21 power- play goals and six game-winning goals. On January 17, 2009, he scored his 702nd career NHL point surpassing John MacLean to become the franchise's all-time leading scorer. His sixteen career overtime goals rank second in NHL history.
Elias made his NHL debut on December 7, 1995 vs. Toronto. It marked the lone game he played that season, and he would skate in 17 more during the 1996-97 campaign. Patrik would join the club full-time in 1997-98 when he scored 37 points (18g-19a) in 74 games, while being named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.
Patrik represented the Czech Republic nine times in international play, including four Winter Olympic Games, four World Championships and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. In Olympic play, Elias captained the 2010 squad and was a member of the 2006 Bronze Medal-winning team.
In his final NHL game, on April 9, 2016, Elias scored a goal, recorded two assists and was named the First Star of the game, as he led the Devils to a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of a sold-out crowd at Prudential Center.