Monday, August 22, 2011

Chris Drury Retires From NHL

My apologies for not having this up sooner, but I had a personal matter to attend to this weekend. I'm sure you all have heard by now that Chris Drury officially retired from the NHL after a 12-year career on Friday. Drury, who was bought out of the final year of his contract with the Rangers earlier this offseason, clearly had hoped to continue his playing career elsewhere, but it seems as if it just wasn't meant to be. Drury retires with 615 points (255 goals, 360 assists) in 892 career regular season games.

Drury was limited to just 24 games this past season due to a combination of a twice-broken finger and knee surgery. The writing was clearly on the wall for the end of Drury's NHL career when John Tortorella said he had a chronic knee condition on breakup day after the Rangers' season ended in the playoffs against Washington.

It's a sad ending for a guy who never managed to live up to the expectations that were set for him when he agreed to a 5-year deal with the Rangers on July 1, 2007. Drury wanted to make it work in New York, but he just wasn't able to for various reasons. Part of it was the fact that his personality just didn't fit the prototypical New York Rangers captain persona, and of course the largest part was the fact that he just never put up the stats that the Rangers expected when they agreed to pay Chris Drury $7 million a season. Drury was mainly a second liner during his best years with the Rangers, and was relegated to the third and fourth lines the past several seasons when it was clear he just didn't have a place on the team anymore.

Rangers fans will likely be upset with Chris Drury for not just retiring before the Rangers bought him out. If he did that, he would've left $7 million on the table in the final year of his contract and the Rangers would've been off the hook for having to count any of his salary against the cap the way they are now. Let's be honest, though - as prideful and respected a player as Chris Drury is, very few people in the world would turn down $7 million. Drury knew this was his last big payday and he wanted to cash in. Does it hurt his image as a team-first guy? I'd say so, but I never really believed he would turn down guaranteed money just to financially help out a team that no longer wanted him. More than that, I truly believe that Drury wanted to continue his playing career and try to latch on with a team somewhere, and I guess he found out that there wasn't any real interest in him from other teams in the league.

Drury's Rangers career didn't have many (if any) bright spots that will be remembered years from now, but I still respect the guy for trying. He wanted to make it work in New York, but it wasn't meant to be. Drury will ultimately go down as another one of Glen Sather's free agency blunders despite what was overall a solid NHL career.

You can read more about my thoughts on Drury's Rangers career in a column I did back in June on here.

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