Patrik Elias has missed the entire 2016-17 recovering from knee surgery, throwing his NHL career in doubt. Now, it appears Elias is leaning towards retirement.
Elias, who’s not under contract with the Devils and an unrestricted free agent, spoke with NHL.com. He revealed while he might be physically ready to come back, he isn’t quite mentally prepared to take the ice one last time.
“The time is up, actually,” Elias told The One Jersey Network. “I talked to [Devils general manager Ray Shero] before Christmas, I expressed how I feel physically and I honestly think I’d be capable of [coming back] physically. But it’s more, for me, where I’m at mentally. It’s hard to explain. When you go through injuries it leaves you with a little bit of doubt, but at the same time you start realizing ‘maybe there’s something more for me after hockey.’ Obviously, enjoying the family and doing stuff I haven’t been able to do for 25 or 30 years, maybe. Mentally, I’m just getting closer to wanting to enjoy those things.”
“I gotta make a decision soon, not [just] to be honest with myself, but at the same time for respect to the guys.”
It’s more than understandable the 40-year-old is seeing a future beyond playing. He hasn’t been healthy over a single season since 2011-12. Elias appeared in just 12 games last year.
With more than 1000 points in nearly two decades with the Devils, if Elias feels he’s accomplished all that he can and wants to walk away, he should. New Jersey isn’t guaranteed for a playoff spot, so what exactly would he be coming back for? He’s enjoyed an amazing career and if he wants to spend more time with his family, he’s earned that right. Elias is an all-time great Devil, that won’t change if he doesn’t return to the lineup ever again.