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Patrik Elias skates in warmups one last time

Retired Devils forward honored prior to game against Islanders

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Former New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias participated in warmups for the last time at Prudential Center on Saturday.

Elias wore his No. 26 and skated with the Devils prior to their game against the New York Islanders, bringing an end to a career that lasted 20 NHL seasons.

Elias, who announced his retirement March 31, said he didn't want to play in the game against the Islanders, although he was given that option. Fans showered the leading scorer in Devils history with chants of 'Patty! Patty!' during his curtain call.

Elias, who turns 41 on April 13, darted out of the runway leading to the ice by himself to a standing ovation, flashing a familiar grin. He immediately picked up a puck and whipped it into the open net to another big cheer before being joined by teammates.

"During the warmup, I was able to sneak one in on [goaltender Cory Schneider] and got excited for that," said Elias, who played 1,240 NHL games, all with the Devils. "I just want the fans to remember me as guy who put smiles on their faces and got them excited to come watch a hockey game."

Video: NYI@NJD: Elias, family drop ceremonial first puck

Each Devils player had a No. 26 patch on his jersey. Elias also was on the ice for the ceremonial puck drop and was greeted by former teammate and Islanders forward Stephen Gionta.

"I kept it together until the end; it was fun," Elias said. "I did my routine before the game and enjoyed seeing all the fans here with family and friends. It was beautiful, emotional, and I kept it together until my wife and kids came on the ice [during the ceremonial puck drop]. I was surprised by that. I didn't know they were coming out."

Elias was joined by his wife, Petra, and daughters Sophia and Kaila.

Though the skate marked the end of his NHL career, Elias, who is from the Czech Republic, didn't rule out possibly playing in Europe.

"I don't know; the game is different in Europe because it's easier on the body," Elias said. "Physically, I do feel better than I did a year ago, so to me it's more the mental aspect and if I'm OK to keep doing it. I'm not ruling anything out honestly. I haven't decided anything yet, but we'll see what happens over the summer.

"I love the game no matter what league I'm playing, whether it's pick up hockey or a charity game."

Elias has not played since April 9, when he had a goal and two assists in a 5-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in last season's finale. He had cartilage replacement surgery on his right knee May 11, the second surgery on the knee in four months.

He retired as the Devils leader in goals (408), assists (617), points (1,025), power-play goals (113), power-play points (333) and game-winning goals (80). The two-time Stanley Cup winner (2000, 2003) is first in Devils history in playoff goals (45), assists (80), points (125), power-play goals (21) and power-play points (52), and is tied for the most game-winning goals (six) with Scott Stevens, Petr Sykora, Claude Lemieux and Jamie Langenbrunner.

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