Well, maybe I wouldn't walk away from $3 million (or, more likely, $2 million after a buyout) but classy Swede Markus Naslund gave back to the team that gave him an opportunity last year, officially announcing his retirement just about an hour ago.
Here is our story from today's editions of The Record and Herald News. Click below to read the full text of the Rangers' release on Naslund.
This is a huge boon to GM Glen Sather, who gets some salary cap relief for next season with a serious to-do list before the skates are laced for the start of training camp in September.
New York, May 4, 2009 – New York Rangers forward Markus Naslund announced his retirement today, ending his memorable 15-year National Hockey League career, which included a Lester B. Pearson Award (2003), five NHL All-Star Game appearances (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004) and three NHL All-Star First Team selections (2002, 2003 and 2004).
"I would like to sincerely thank Glen Sather and the New York Rangers for giving me the opportunity this past season in New York," said Naslund. "I would also like to thank the Vancouver Canucks and all of their fans for their support over the 11-plus seasons I was a part of their organization, as well as to the Pittsburgh Penguins where I began my NHL career."
Naslund became a member of the Rangers organization when he signed as a free agent on July 3, 2008. He made his debut as a Blueshirt on October 4 vs. Tampa Bay at Prague, Czech Republic, after being named the team’s Alternate Captain the day before. Naslund was one of six Rangers to skate in all 82 games this season, finishing second on the team in goals (24), tied for second in power play goals (eight) and ranked fifth in points (46). He extended his streak of 20-goal seasons to 10 consecutive seasons. In addition, Naslund led the team with a plus-two rating and tied for third with three points (one goal and two assists) in seven post-season contests.
Prior to joining the Rangers, Naslund spent 12 years with the Vancouver Canucks, serving as team Captain for eight seasons (2000-01 – 2007-08), and three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the first round, 16th overall, in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, and was traded to Vancouver on March 20, 1996, in exchange for Alek Stojanov.
The 6-0, 195-pounder skated in 1,117 career regular season contests with Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Rangers, registering 395 goals and 474 assists for 869 points, along with 736 penalty minutes. He enjoyed his greatest success during the 2002-03 season, winning the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by his peers, and finishing as the Hart Memorial Trophy runner-up as league MVP while establishing career-highs in goals (48), assists (56), points (104), power-play goals (24), and game-winning goals (12). Naslund reached the 40-goal mark three times in his career (2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03), and surpassed the 30-goal plateau six times. He also recorded 11 career hat tricks. Naslund reached 800 career points on December 27 vs. Calgary, and skated in his 1,000th career NHL game on January 17 at Detroit. He made his NHL debut on October 5, 1993 at Philadelphia.
In post-season play, Naslund appeared in 52 career contests with Vancouver and the Rangers, registering 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points, along with 56 penalty minutes. He led Vancouver to the Western Conference Semi-Finals in 2002-03, finishing first on the team with career-highs in assists (nine) and points (14), and second in goals (five), also a career-high.
Internationally, Naslund represented Sweden at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, registering two goals and one assist for three points in four contests. In addition, he was a member of Team Sweden at the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2002 IIHF World Championships.