http://www.truehockey.com/articles/Post ... Retirement
Post-Concussion Concerns Lead to Andy McDonald Retirement
Longtime NHL forward Andy McDonald is calling it quits citing ongoing post-concussion concerns as the reason.
The 35 year-old Stanley Cup winner enjoyed a solid career that included close to 700 regular season games and nearly 500 points, but a much smaller number is ending his career.
McDonald had five documented concussions over the course of an 11-year NHL career, including two with the St. Louis Blues. The threat of another head injury not only ending his career but also the potential long-term effects began consuming the former All-Star.
“The last few years too much of the focus became worrying about the next hit. I was always thinking about it.” Said McDonald.
Retirement began creeping into McDonald’s head during the regular season but it wasn’t until after the Blues were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings did he become 100% sure. He spent the last several weeks with his family and is confident now is the right time to move on with his life.
“I’m fortunate to get out now. I know I could play two or three more years and I love the game of hockey, but healthwise I know I shouldn’t be playing.”
The Strathroy, Ontario native says he’s in a good position to walk away now and focus his energy on his young family and no longer worry about the next concussion.
Leaving the game won’t be easy for McDonald who says the toughest part is how talented the Blues are and the potential the organization has moving forward.
McDonald’s future with the Blues was foggy at best. Coming off the final season of a four-year contract, it was unclear if the Blues had plans of re-signing the speedy forward. Unfortunately for McDonald, the ongoing symptoms continued to persist and the positives of retiring outweighed the risks of playing professional hockey.
Overlooked in both the OHL and NHL draft, McDonald enjoyed a great career at Colgate University tallying 67 goals in four years. After playing himself into one of the most sought after NCAA players, McDonald signed a free-agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks.
He entered the league in 2000 before breaking out a few seasons later. From 2005-2007 McDonald would score 61 goals and 163 points finishing second on the Ducks in scoring behind Teemu Selanne. He’d go on to play a major role in helping the Ducks capture the 2007 Stanley Cup scoring 10 playoff goals, good for second most in the NHL.
Traded to St. Louis for Doug Weight in 2008, McDonald would play his final five-plus seasons with the Blues.
The trade shocked a number of players in Anaheim as GM Brian Burke was forced to make a cost cutting decision. I remember calling Chris Pronger, who was playing in Anaheim at the time, to tell him I heard this trade was going down. Pronger responded by laughing out loud suggesting Anaheim wouldn’t make this deal. Several minutes later the trade was made official.
Plagued by multiple injuries, McDonald still produced 230 points in 294 career games as a Blue. His best season came in 2009 where he played 79 games and lead the Blues in scoring.
McDonald and his wife Gina have two kids and plan on raising their family in St. Louis. He’s become a partner with R.E.A. homes, a local company that builds high performance luxury homes. In all, McDonald lost almost 140 games in his career because of concussions. He understands the serious impact concussions can have not only on the individual but also on friends and family members around them. He plans on being outspoken in regard to head injuries moving forward and hopes to help educate other hockey players as more progress is made in studying concussions.
Since arriving on the scene with the Blues, McDonald has been a major contributor on the ice. The combination of speed, skill, and experience came at a time when the Blues were lacking in all three categories. In the short-term he has no plans of getting back into the game but is quick to say he isn’t closing any doors.
More to come,