Newark, NJ - Center Travis Zajac, who spent all but 13 games of his 15-year NHL career with New Jersey, today signed a one-day contract with the New Jersey Devils and announced his retirement from the National Hockey League. Zajac will remain with the organization in an on/off-ice player development and consulting role, while also working to grow the club's youth hockey initiatives.
To his family, friends and fans, Travis released the following statement:
"I was drafted in 2004 and played my first game in 2006. As I stand here nearing the end of 2021, I can only be grateful to sign one last time, and retire as a New Jersey Devil.
"As a kid playing hockey on the outdoor rinks in Winnipeg, I dreamt about playing in the NHL. Growing up the oldest of four boys, it was the perfect hockey environment. Thanks to my parents unwavering support in our lives, that dream became a reality. Then, I got to live that childhood goal for 15 years with the Devils.
"I want to thank the New Jersey Devils organization for giving me the opportunity to play in the best league in the world. To the past and present ownership, managing partners, managers, coaches, and trainers, your hard work has not gone unnoticed- thank you. And thanks also to my agent, Kurt Overhardt, for always believing in me.
"I have to acknowledge all my teammates who helped me throughout my career. I will cherish all the memories made and I hope that I've impacted your life the way you've positively impacted mine.
"Now, to the fans, you are the reason this game is so special, and I leave the game knowing I enjoyed every moment I got to play in front of you.
"Lastly, I want to thank my beautiful wife Nicole and our kids Zenon, Veronika, and Anya. We have deep roots in New Jersey now. My wife went to graduate school at Montclair State, our three children, were born in Jersey and raised right here in this rink at Prudential Center. They know no other home and no other community like the Devils. It's now time for me to embed myself into this same community where I grew into adulthood. It is where my heart is, my home, and I've never felt otherwise.
"Born in Winnipeg, Made in Jersey."
"During his 15-year NHL career, Travis Zajac's consistent preparation, commitment and performance epitomized what it meant to be a New Jersey Devil," said David Blitzer, Managing Partner of the New Jersey Devils. "Win or lose, Travis' teammates, coaches and fans could always count on him to play the right way. I am thrilled that Travis, his wife Nicole and their children will continue to make New Jersey their home, and they will be a valued part of the Devils organization moving forward."
"Throughout his career, Travis Zajac served as a respected leader on and off the ice, and a tremendous representative for the New Jersey Devils organization," said Josh Harris, Co-Managing Partner of the New Jersey Devils. "Congratulations to Travis, Nicole, and the entire family on this next chapter. We are honored that they will call New Jersey home, while continuing to engage and improve our community."
"Everyone in the NHL appreciates that Travis Zajac's work ethic and style of play were reflective of the New Jersey Devils," said Tom Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President/General Manager, New Jersey Devils. "His training, discipline and focus rubbed off on every player who walked into that locker room over his 15-year career. I look forward to Travis working with our organization, on his terms and his timeline, in a manner that influences future Devils in the same manner when he played. We are ecstatic to know we will see the Zajac family around the Prudential Center rinks for years to come."
Zajac was New Jersey's first-round selection and 20th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. A symbol of durability and reliability, Travis Zajac played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League, all but the end of last season with New Jersey. He appeared in 1,037 career regular-season games scoring 203 goals and 349 assists for 552 points while registering 344 penalty minutes. Zajac's name is posted across New Jersey's franchise all-time leaderboards- his games-played total (1,024) ranks fourth, goal total (202) ranks tied for third, assist total (348) is fifth and points (550) rank third. Zajac appeared in his 1,000th career NHL game on February 21, 2021, at Washington, at the time becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to achieve that mark. Zajac also owns the franchise record for most consecutive games played, 401, from October 26, 2006, through April 10, 2011.
Zajac finished his career with the New York Islanders, following a trade on April 7, 2021- playing in 13 regular-season games (1G-1A) and 14 Stanley Cup Playoff contests (1G-1A). Zajac made his NHL debut October 6, 2006, at Carolina and scored his first NHL goal the next evening October 7, 2006, at Dallas. During his career, he received Lady Byng votes in seven of his NHL seasons and Selke votes in seven separate seasons. He served as an assistant captain in seven of his last eight seasons with New Jersey.
Born May 13, 1985, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zajac played two seasons at University of North Dakota (WCHA) 2004-05 and 2005-06, advancing to the NCAA Championship Game his freshman season and Frozen Four as a sophomore. He represented Team Canada at the 2009 (winning a silver medal) and 2011 World Championships. Travis and his wife, Nicole, have three children- son, Zenon (9), and daughters Veronika (7) and Anya (4).
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travis was not able to be acknowledged by Devils fans at the Prudential Center for his 1,000th career NHL game, so the Devils organization will recognize Zajac during the March 10, 2022, game versus his hometown Winnipeg Jets.