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Brent Sopel announces retirement from hockey: report

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Defenseman Brent Sopel, who spent 12 seasons playing in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks, announced his retirement Friday, according to ESPN.com.

"I have been so lucky to play the sport I love for the last 18 years," Sopel said in a statement. "I fulfilled a lifelong dream of winning a Stanley Cup championship with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.

"Today's decision is not made lightly. This is the right time for my next chapter. I look forward to staying involved with hockey while maintaining family roots in Chicago. I am excited to spend more time with my children in the city we call home."

Sopel, 38, had one goal and eight points in 29 games this season with the Chicago Wolves, the American Hockey League affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. He last played in the NHL during the 2010-11 season, which he split between the Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens. He spent the next three seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"We thank Brent for his service and his professionalism this season," Wolves general manager Wendell Young said in a statement. "He has been an excellent role model for our players. We wish him the best as he pursues other dreams in the hockey world."

Sopel was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth round (No. 144) of the 1995 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut with the Canucks during the 1998-99 season. He played parts of six seasons in Vancouver and then had brief stints with the New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings. He returned to the Canucks at the end of the 2006-07 season and then signed with the the Blackhawks.

Sopel spent three seasons in Chicago, the last of which was 2009-10, when the Blackhawks ended a 49-year championship drought by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games for the Stanley Cup. Sopel had one goal, six assists and a plus-7 rating in 22 games during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"While each professional season holds a special place in my heart, the years I spent with the Chicago Blackhawks are my fondest memories," Sopel said. "The Chicago Blackhawks are a top-class organization with a foundation for success on and off the ice."

Sopel had career highs of 10 goals and 42 points in 2003-04 with the Canucks. He finished his NHL career with 44 goals and 218 points in 659 regular-season games and had four goals and 18 points in 71 playoff games.

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