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#LGRW Daily: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard announces retirement from NHL

Wings franchise leader in saves calls it a career after 14 NHL seasons

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- Fourteen years, 13,970 saves, 543 games, 246 wins, 48 playoff games, seven straight playoff appearances, three All-Star selections. Those are the accolades that Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard boasts as he waves goodbye to Hockeytown and the NHL.

Howard announced his retirement Thursday after 14 NHL seasons, which were all spent in Detroit, and he skates away as the franchise's all-time leader in saves, No. 3 in games played, No. 3 in wins and was the first goalie in franchise history to win at least 35 games in each of his first three full seasons.

The 36-year-old Syracuse, New York native made his retirement official Thursday morning with an Instagram post thanking the Red Wings organization, the fans, his teammates and family.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Congrats on a great career, Howie! 🙌📱: https://t.co/JXG1Rw8yqP pic.twitter.com/nV7Cb5EQ4x

"Becoming an NHL goalie was a childhood dream and after an incredible 14 years within the Red Wings organization, I've decided to say farewell to playing professional hockey and move on to the next chapter," Howard wrote in the post. "It has been the honor of a lifetime to play and I'm forever thankful to the fans, everyone within the Red Wings organization, my teammates and my family for their ongoing support, loyalty and dedication.

"As I enter this new chapter in my life, I look forward to spending more time with my family, coaching my son's hockey team and new opportunities the future will hold."

Video: Jimmy Howard discusses his recent retirement

Howard was selected by the Red Wings with the 64th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Draft. He played collegiately for two seasons at the University of Maine before turning pro and he made his NHL debut on November 28, 2005, earning a 4-2 road win against the Los Angeles Kings.

Howard said his NHL debut was the best moment of his career.

"Just being able to be out there and playing in the NHL and getting the win," he said in an interview on FOX Sports Detroit Thursday night. "It was something that I just couldn't put into words then. I was only 21 years old. I still kind of had to pinch myself that I was sitting in a room with Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Chris Osgood, Pavel (Datsyuk) Henrik (Zetterberg), Nick Lidstrom. Looking back on it, all that hard work coming to fruition right there in that moment."

Video: Thank you, Howie

Howard played his first full NHL season in 2009-10 and finished runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL rookie of the year. He won 37 games that season, made the All-Rookie team and started all 12 playoff games for the Red Wings.

He was selected to the All-Star Game in 2012 and 2014 and led the Wings to the playoffs in each of his first seven seasons.

But in 2016-17, Howard only made 24 starts and had a losing record for the first time in his career. It was the first time in 25 years that the Red Wings failed to make the playoffs, and Howard was forced to take a step back.

He re-committed himself to his craft that offseason and re-invigorated his game.

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Howard's work ethic was the best part of his game and was what made him special.

"I was always really impressed with how he continued his career at a critical moment when I became the head coach and changed his game," Blashill said Thursday. "I thought that was an example of Jimmy's commitment to his craft. He worked really hard at this craft. I was in great respect of that.

"He had a great, great early part of his career and then the game had changed a little bit, and he worked with our goalie coaches to change his game so he could adapt because he wanted to be great."

Blashill said Howard was one of the most competitive players he's ever been around, and said the goaltender was also a tremendous teammate.

"Jimmy was a great teammate, great Red Wing," Blashill said. "Really, really competitive. Big-time winner and just a great teammate. I think he had a really, really great career and he should be celebrated.

"When you look at his career in totality, it was a really wonderful career and I'm super thankful that I got a chance to coach him because he was a great competitor and a really, really great Red Wing."

Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser echoed what Blashill said about Howard's competitiveness.

"Jimmy was a great goalie for us for a long time," said DeKeyser, who played eight seasons with Howard. "He gave us a chance to win more nights than not. He loved playing hockey, he loved competing. That's one thing that really stood out to me. He just seemed like he always tried to do things the right way."

DeKeyser said despite Howard's competitiveness, he also sported a care-free attitude off the ice, which made teammates gravitate toward him and improved chemistry.

"That was another quality of his, was not taking things too seriously all the time and being able to go out there and have fun and kind of joke about things even if they weren't always going the right way," DeKeyser said. "He liked to go out there and have fun and be around the team."

Howard was also a pillar in the community, generously volunteering his time and resources to several worthy causes in metro Detroit.

He donated $50,000 worth of N95 masks to the Detroit Medical Center in 2020, he surprised a young superfan facing a double mastectomy with flowers and a VIP experience in 2014 and he created the Jimmy Howard Foundation in 2005 to support, benefit and promote research, treatment and cures for various diseases.

He's also made several appearances and contributed to many initiatives with the Red Wings community relations team throughout his entire career.

Watch: Youtube Video

Howard said his former general manager -- and current Edmonton Oilers GM -- Ken Holland recently reached out to inquire about his interest in continuing his career north of the border, but Howard said his decision had been made.

He wanted to retire as a member of the Red Wings and he's focused on coaching his sons' hockey team, the Oakland Junior Grizzlies.

"I'm really enjoying coaching both my boys," Howard said about his sons, 9-year-old James IV and 6-year-old Henry. "I'm having a blast with that, and that's sort of been my hockey fix through all of this."

Howard said he walks away from the game with no regrets and said he's incredibly thankful for all the support he's received from the Hockeytown faithful.

"I can't thank everyone (enough), first and foremost that have reached out and sent their kind regards. There's been hundreds and hundreds of them," he said. "To be honest, it's still all kind of surreal. I can't believe that it's happening, but it's happening. I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to be around the house more, ready to help out and coach my boys' teams."

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