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Richter's Press Conference Transcript

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

I want to thank everybody for showing up today, particularly members of the press, I've had an enjoyable relationship with you. You guys have listened to me ramble on about basically every topic under the sun, except maybe the question asked for years now, and perhaps the irony of it is that its time for me at the podium, and I'm pretty much speechless. I - it's a bit of a confusion day for me - I feel a great deal of sadness, because I have to give up something that I truly love, but at the same time I feel very grateful to this very gift to which I owe so much and will miss to dearly. I am here today to announce that due to my injury last November 5th, the doctors have informed me that I am no longer able to continue my career as a professional athlete. I am not cleared to play, and due to my history of concussions, apparently I won't be. The risks are simply too great.

I want to thank Dr. Karen Johnson who worked with my closely and of course our great trainer, Jimmy Ramsey. Both of whom no only posses impressive skill, but remarkable compassion and it was very valuable in the last few months. I also want to acknowledge Mr Dolan. It means an awful that when your owner can look you in the eye and offer you help out of concern for you as a person and not just a player. He did just that, and I thank him.

The last ten months have been very difficult both physically and emotionally. Living with this injury on a daily basis and coming to terms with its implications, for both my career and life, have been challenging. One moment you think you can play forever, and a short while later you are playing that the rest of your life is not compromised. So I say today that when I feel I unprepared, I mean that I am still a bit in shock, I did not expect to miss a game let alone the rest of my career. I suppose that's a roundabout way of saying I'm a little bit in denial. The good news however, is that the doctors expect me to make a full recovery. And although I still posses some symptoms, my health improve an awful lot everyday. Realistically I am 36 years old and this day was going to come at some point. The team is in great hands with Mike Dunham and Dan Blackburn, two great guys that I have enjoyed working with. I have my own little team at home with my 1 and 3 year olds, so perhaps the time is a little more fitting that I know. It says right here in my notes - I have not really dealt with this - so I shouldn't be crying yet, but I am not following my script, (I'm in denial) - the fact of the matter is that I have had so much fun playing and so much of what I have today is a direct result of the game of hockey. But no matter when the end came, I would never quite be comfortable parting with it. From my earliest days playing street hockey with my brothers in Philly, I wanted to play in the NHL. Sometimes goals don't' meet expectations, but I can honestly say that the exact opposite is true for me. Playing this game has met and exceeded my greatest dreams. To play a game for a living you have to consider yourself very very fortunate. To play that one game for only one team, you have to be lucky. And to have that team be an original six team with all its rich history and to represent this great city of New York, of all places, is about as good as it gets. I'm amazed by this gift.

I will miss it. I will miss it, but I remind myself that what I am giving up in hockey, I am gaining in life. I said to a friend if I could just find a job that gives me as much challenge and fulfillment as hockey has, I'm sure it would ease the transition. He interrupted me and said, you won't because there isn't one. So I have that going for me. But I am excited by the next phase in my life and I look forward to proving him wrong. Probably the thing that makes me most uncomfortable about today is the difficulty of properly acknowledging, all those who deserve my appreciation. I have had a tremendous support system of family, teachers, teammates, doctors, friends, and a loving spouse. I will spend a lifetime trying to repay their debt. And for those who know how frugal I can be, Brian I've said it a lot, to my parents brothers and sister who are here today and elsewhere, I thank you for your love and support. To the Ranger organization, members of its management, coaches that have meant to much to me across my career, I say thank you. To the great many people behind the scenes at Madison Square Garden, that make our jobs as athlete easier, like Acacio Marques, Pat Boller, Darren Blake, John Rosasco, Joe Devenney, just to name a few, its unfortunate that I just can't name them all, they are great workers and great friends. To my many teammates over the years, they have been some of the funniest, most enjoyable hardworking and caring people that I have ever known, thank you. I have had the chance to go to battle with guys like Adam Graves, Wayne Gretzky, Mark, Brian, and Eric. These are some of the greatest warriors the game has ever seen, and have helped me so much professionally and personally. I will miss competing with you guys and I will always cherish our friendship. To the tremendous fans of New York, and the press, you have treated me with loyalty and fairness, and I thank you. It's funny that I was so scared of everyone, the fans and the press particularly when I came here, and now they seem like family. You act like a player like you don't hear those shouts of encouragement and other things, but you do and it means a lot, and the fans here have been incredible. Finally to my wife and friend, Veronica, who has been so understanding, supportive and helpful, over my career, but particularly you have been most present during the difficult times, I thank you and I love you.

To me in a sense it's a bit like the death of a close friend or a companion. I'll end on this cheery note. The passing of life, as I have come to know it, this day will help me move along in the grieving process and my emotion will move along with it, from one of bitter disappointment and loss to one of deep gratitude and wonderful memories and cherished friends. This sport, as in life, you really can't control the length or the quantity, so much as the quality of your time. I could not have asked more a rich and enjoyable experience. To my family and friends and the Rangers organization, and its wonderful fans, I thank you again for your incredible support in my journal and thank you for helping me allow my dream to come true.
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