After 12 years in the NHL, 892 games, 615 points and one Stanley Cup success, former Rangers captain Chris Drury has announced his retirement from the game.
As we all know, the final year of Drury’s five-year, $35.25m contract was bought out by the Rangers this summer, a move that was absolutely necessary in order for this team to move forward (and out from under his exorbitant cap-hit).
Drury signed for the Rangers in the summer of 2007 after spending his best years in Colorado and Buffalo. He’s had a great career, and whether you choose to compare points to pay-checks or focus on his entire body of work over the past 12 seasons, that’s your call. We all know it didn’t play out as planned in New York: injuries, age and perhaps a little too much expectation wore heavy on his shoulders, but Drury goes out with grace and can look back on some fond memories in retirement.
I’ll admit, I was as frustrated as anyone to see such a large part of the Rangers cap space being rotted away over the past couple of seasons as Drury missed games and played on the bottom-6 in others, but his body had clearly broken down to the extent that all the effort in the world – which he always gave – couldn’t drag him along. He couldn’t be a top-6 guy anymore, no matter how much he wanted to be, and comparing him to his contract was never really going to work.
But this isn’t about the Rangers, it’s about Drury and his entire body of work. Chris was (and still is) a stand-up guy, respected and loved by his team-mates, opposition players and media alike. Obviously the term ‘clutch’ became an overused joke toward the end of his career, but there was a time when he was just that – hell, just ask the 2006-7 Rangers team.
Of course there will be some frustration at the fact he’s retired after being bought out by the Rangers, but you have to believe that retirement wasn’t his initial intention. Injuries – and perhaps a lack of offers – have obviously hampered his attempts to continue in the NHL. I’ve already seen far too many comparisons to the Markus Naslund situation of a couple of summers ago, a completely different one at that.
We can make Little League jokes and reflect on how his time in New York didn’t work out as planned, but at the end of the day the NHL has lost one of its good guys today… and that will always be a shame. Enjoy retirement, Dru!
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