On Monday morning, Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw announced he was ending his playing career.
"There comes a time when every athlete needs to realize when their health is a priority and a future with their family is what is most important. That point for me is now," Shaw said. "After several concussions, doctors have strongly recommended I stop playing the game that I love. For once in my life, I am going to listen."
In February, Shaw was hit in the face in an elbow by Dallas Stars defenseman Joel Hanley. He was placed in the concussion protocol and moved to injured reserve.
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"Though he has recovered, given the potential long-term consequences of repetitive concussions, we have advised him to discontinue his career as a professional hockey player," Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said. "The Blackhawks are very supportive of his decision to prioritize his long-term health."
Shaw admitted he contemplated retirement during training camp in January of this year because of concussions.
"It really was just committing to making sure I felt better," Shaw said at the time. "Whether or not I was going to play or not wasn’t my first goal. My first goal was to get better and feel like myself. ... Obviously there were times where it was tough and exhausting but grinded, grinded every day. Grinded months to a year to get where I am. It’s good to know I can get back to feeling good."
Last season Shaw missed the final 44 games of the regular season and all nine of Chicago's postseason games.
"Though it is unfortunate Andrew’s playing career is over, I admire him for making this difficult decision and putting his family and his well-being first. Andrew will always have a home here in Chicago and we wish him and his family nothing but the best in the next chapter of their lives," Blackhawks president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman said.
Shaw finishes his career as a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015. He played in 544 games, scoring 116 goals and tabbing 131 assists.
Shaw's full message is below:
"My first game as a rookie with the Chicago Blackhawks still sticks out in my mind. In my second shift, I had my first fight in the National Hockey League. I followed that up with my first NHL goal in the second period. From that point on, I knew I had a chance to be this team’s underdog. A player that could represent the city of Chicago’s blue-collar mentality. Be their mutt if you will.
"There comes a time when every athlete needs to realize when their health is a priority and a future with their family is what is most important. That point for me is now. After several concussions, doctors have strongly recommended I stop playing the game that I love. For once in my life, I am going to listen.
"I am extremely proud of what I accomplished in my career, and I want to make it clear; I would not change anything about it. I won two Stanley Cups, made lifelong friends – and some enemies, too – and will cherish those memories for the rest of my life.
"To the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Stan Bowman, and Rocky Wirtz, thank you for taking a chance on a kid who was passed over twice in the NHL Draft. Without their belief in me, my underdog story would not have been written. I also want to thank the Chicago Blackhawks Medical Staff - Dr. Michael Terry, Mike Gapski, Jeff Thomas and Patrick Becker – for providing me with the best care I could have asked for throughout my seven years in Chicago as well as the equipment staff – Troy Parchman, Jimmy Heintzelman, Clint Reif and DJ Kogut – for keeping me sharp on the ice.
"To my wife, Chaunette and my kids, Andy and Dax, thank you for always standing in my corner and being my biggest fans. Thank you to my parents, Doug and Darlene, my brothers, Jason and Joshua and my sister, Alex, for always believing in me and shaping me into the man I am today. Thank you to my agent Pat Brisson for always treating me like a big dog even though I was just a little guy. And lastly, a special thanks to my coaches, Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien and Jeremy Colliton. I hope it was as fun for you to coach me as it was for me to play for you.
"I will miss the locker room and my teammates from both Chicago and Montreal. I hope they will miss me too. Though I might have been excessively loud, pulled a prank once or twice and given you a hard time, I always prided myself on keeping the mood light and being the best teammate I could be. It was a pleasure competing with you night in and night out.
"Most of all, I will miss the fans. I was lucky enough to play in two of the best hockey cities and fanbases in the world in Chicago and Montreal and I am grateful for my experiences with all of you. I gave everything I had every night for you, and you are the reason this was one of the toughest decisions in my life.
"Thank you all for giving a mutt a home, and a chance to live out my dream"