It came out Tuesday on Twitter - Scott Hartnell announcing his retirement.
I was immediately shaken by it. I saw him open up his NHL career in Japan at the Saitama Super Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins in his draft year of 2000. Not many players make their teams to start the season in their draft years, and certainly the opening series in Japan made that all the more special. An 18-year-old Scott Hartnell, whom Terry Crisp oftentimes referred to as "Bull Hartnell," implying the old adage about a bull in a China shop, made Barry Trotz's team.
So far, only two players have started the season with the Predators in their draft year: Hartnell in 2000 and Seth Jones in 2013. Hartnell was the Predators' third first-round selection, taken sixth overall in 2000. He has played more games (1,249) than anyone else in that draft, though Carolina's Justin Williams (with 1,162) could possibly catch him. Marian Gaborik (407) and Dany Heatley (372) both have scored more than Scott's 327 NHL goals, but Williams' all-around contributions are the only ones similar to Hartnell's output.
Scott gave the team something it had been lacking: size up front. He began on a line with an original Predator, Ville Peltonen and a fellow rookie, Greg Classen. He would score two goals that year, including his first in Boston, but he made an impact. He was an abrasive (to the Preds' opponents) and a fun-loving player.
Scott developed into a 20-goal scorer after the arrival of Paul Kariya in the summer of 2005. Kariya taught him to go to the front of the net with his stick down on the ice and that helped turn Hartnell's career around.
The Philadelphia Flyers were more than happy to take Hartnell (and defenseman Kimmo Timonen) in the summer of 2007. With the Flyers, Hartnell scored 20 goals in three seasons and 30 two more times.
He was a big part of the Flyers team (under head coach Peter Laviolette) which advanced to the Cup Final in 2010 against Chicago. In three subsequent seasons in Columbus, he twice hit 20 goals and played in his 1,000th NHL game. Timonen made sure he was there for the occasion to celebrate with him.
Last season, in what turned out to be his finale in the League, he was always a delight to be around. He understood his role on the team and played it to the hilt. His all-out style of play over his career led to one of his nicknames ("Hartnell Down") but he was appreciated League wide.
It encompassed 18 years, by far longer than the average NHL career, but it still seems as if it has gone by so quickly!