Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins announced today that he is retiring from professional hockey after 17 seasons of play.
"It's kind of a tough day, but I think it's pretty much come for me to make this decision," said Desjardins. "It was not easy and that's why I waited the whole summer to think about it. For me, it was really important to retire as a Flyer. I don't feel I could be at the level that I want to be at, so that's why I decided to retire.
"One thing that I always tried to do was take my role seriously and be ready every night on the ice and conduct myself professionally off the ice."
"It is really a sad day for the Flyers to see one of our greatest players ever decide to retire, but I fully understand and respect Eric's decision," said Flyers Chairman Ed Snider. "He exemplifies what a professional athlete should be and we will certainly miss his presence in the locker room as well as on the ice. I wish Eric all the best in his future endeavors. I'm sure that he will be successful with whatever he chooses to do. Thanks, Eric, for all your contributions to the Philadelphia Flyers."
"I think Eric was the perfect athlete," said Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke. "His conduct off the ice was always very disciplined and classy. He always represented the team perfectly. On the ice, he was a gifted player who played the game clean, hard and with dignity. You wish that every player who came through your organization was like Eric Desjardins. I think that he will be remembered as an athlete who played the game at a consistently high level for years and years and never had bad nights."
Desjardins, 37, concludes his 17-season NHL career with 136 goals and 439 assists for 575 points and 757 penalty minutes in 1,143 regular season games for the Montreal Canadiens (1988-89 to 1994-95) and the Flyers (1994-95 through 2005-06). In 11 seasons with the Flyers, Desjardins recorded 93 goals and 303 assists for 396 points and 406 penalty minutes in 738 regular season games. He is second on the Flyers All-Time List among defensemen in goals (93), assists (303) and points (396), trailing only Mark Howe in each category. He is eighth on the Flyers All-Time List in game played (738), third among Flyers defensemen (trailing Chris Therien and Joe Watson).
In 168 career NHL playoff games, Desjardins recorded 23 goals and 57 assists for 80 points and 93 penalty minutes. He registered 14 goals and 37 assists for 51 points and 38 penalty minutes in 97 playoff games with the Flyers. His 14 playoff goals as a Flyer are the most by a defenseman in Flyers history. He appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 16 of his 17 seasons, missing only the 2003-04 Playoffs due to injury, and was a member of the Canadiens' 1993 Stanley Cup Championship team.
Desjardins won a franchise-record seven Barry Ashbee Trophies, including in six consecutive seasons, as the most outstanding Flyers defenseman (1994-95 through 1999-2000 and 2002-03). He was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team twice, following 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons, and participated in three NHL All-Star Games (1992, 1996 and 2000). With his appearance in the Flyers game at Atlanta on December 18, 2002, Desjardins became the 185th player in NHL history to reach the NHL Milestone of 1,000 career games played. He was named the 12th captain in Flyers history on March 27, 2000 and served in that role until October 2001.
Desjardins was acquired by the Flyers, along with Gilbert Dionne and John LeClair, from Montreal in exchange for Mark Recchi and a third round pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft on February 9, 1995.
In seven seasons with Montreal (1988-89 to 1994-95), Desjardins posted 43 goals and 136 assists for 179 points and 351 penalty minutes in 405 regular season games. The 6'1", 205-pound defenseman was drafted from Granby of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League by Montreal in the second round (38th overall) of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.
A native of Rouyn, Quebec, Desjardins represented his country of Canada in the 1988 and 1989 World Junior Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.