Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is returning to pro hockey after agreeing to terms on a contract with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL on Thursday.
Rafalski, 40, had 515 points in 830 regular-season games during 11 NHL seasons, split between the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings. The Dearborn, Mich., native won the Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 2000 and 2003, and a third in 2008 with the Red Wings. He won a silver medal in 2002 and 2010 as a member of the United States Olympic Team.
"I'm just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey," Rafalski said in a statement issued by the Everblades.
Rafalski played for Detroit during the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park last week. He retired following the Red Wings’ exit from the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to knee problems.
“He played in the Winter Classic alumni game and got the bug,” Everblades coach Greg Poss told the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla. "He wants to play in the NHL again."
He had one season remaining on his contract with Detroit. The Everblades needed clearance from the NHL and the Red Wings, according to Florida president and general manager Craig Brush.
"I'm not sure where [Rafalski] is going with it, but this is the first step of whatever process he's going though to play some hockey and gauge where he goes with it," Detroit GM Ken Holland told Fox Sports Detroit.
Rafalski reportedly is close to the Everblades players because he has been the team’s chaplain for the past couple of years.
"Everyone knows him," Poss told the News-Press. "He’s a great player. He won Stanley Cups and is seeing if he can make a comeback.
"We plan on playing him as any other player. He should be good on the power play because that was his specialty in the NHL."