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Chris Drury retires from NHL after 12 seasons

Aug 19, 2011, 12:03 PM EDT

Chris Drury Getty Images

After 12 seasons in the NHL, Chris Drury is calling it a career and retiring from the NHL.

It’s a career that many will reflect back upon with warm thoughts and memories from being a clutch performer in Colorado with the Avalanche winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1998-1999 and helping the team win the 2001 Stanley Cup. Even Buffalo Sabres fans can reflect up on Drury’s time there with a smile as he and Daniel Briere teamed up to bring offensive firepower to Buffalo that they haven’t seen since then.

Drury’s career spanned 892 games and saw him score 255 goals and finish with 615 points. While in Colorado, Drury was the perfect complimentary piece on those teams that featured Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. Drury’s role as a depth player and scorer saw him score 20+ goals in each of his first four seasons with the Avalanche. In his one season in Calgary courtesy of a trade, Drury showed that he could be a playmaker and scorer as he potted 20 goals and added 33 assists.

Calgary would deal Drury to Buffalo and that’s where his career took off. In three seasons with the Sabres, Drury would score 85 goals including back to back 30+ goal seasons. There, Drury would lead the Sabres to back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference finals losing to Carolina in 2006 and Ottawa in 2007. After that 2007 season, however, Drury would leave the Sabres as a free agent and head to Broadway to play for the Rangers.

Drury’s first two seasons in New York were solid as he totaled 58 and 56 points respectively. His final two years in New York would see him struggle with his play and then ultimately his health last season.

As Adrian Dater of The Denver Post notes, Drury will go down as a favorite of his from his days in Denver in a career that seems to have ended too soon.

It hardly seems possible his career is finished. I can still remember the first time he came to Avs camp back in 1998, just a doughy-faced kid not that far removed from being a Little League World Series hero for his town of Trumbull, Conn. I remember his first Burgundy-White game down in Colorado Springs, when he immediately got challenged to a fight by Pascal Trepanier. Drury aced his first rite of passage by standing up for himself – something almost every NHL rookie has to do at some point.

While Drury isn’t going to get much consideration for the Hockey Hall Of Fame, he does leave behind numerous great memories for NHL fans and yes, even fans of his from his Little League days. From his Calder and Stanley Cup wins in Denver, to his efforts in nearly willing the Sabres to the Stanley Cup finals two years in a row, to closing out a solid career in Manhattan he’ll always be a crowd favorite and a guy we wished could’ve kept shining brightly for a lot longer.

Update: Rangers GM Glen Sather released this statement on Drury’s retirement:

“Throughout his career, Chris Drury was always a great competitor, a tremendous leader and teammate, and the heart and soul type of player that every team would love to have.  His commitment, determination and will to win were apparent each and every day.  Those characteristics will have a lasting impact on all those who were fortunate enough to learn from Chris over his 12 years in the National Hockey League.”

  1. bmitarotondo - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    so, drury tells the rangers he isnt retiring. the rangers decide to buy him out because they figure $3.3 mil for nothing is better than $5 mil for virtually nothing. drury cashes the check and then retires. what a piece of crap. the rangers grossly overpaid for him when they signed him 4 years ago, and now he picks their pockets on the way out the door. i lost all respect for chris drury today.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      What are you talking about? He retired because NO ONE wanted him. Last time a checked, Free Agents don’t have their own team (though that would be interesting). Be upset with NYR’s front office for throwing the big contracts year in and year out.

      • bmitarotondo - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:12 PM

        c’mon, he could have retired before the rangers bought him out. i thought it was pretty obvoious no one would want him, considering his injury history and complete lack of production when in the lineup the last 2 years. if he wasnt their captain, they would have sent him to the minors last year and at least saved the cap space. they saved him the indignity of playing out a multi million dollar contract in the minors(i.e. wade redden) and he takes buyout money knowing full well he wasnt going to get signed by anyone else. i just hate when people take money for NOTHING. maybe i am in the minority.

      • canadianshield - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:22 PM

        @bmitarotondo

        He had a no movement clause. They couldn’t have sent him down to the minors. This isn’t even news dude.

    • bcjim - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      Im sure you would leave several million on the table, gimme a break dude.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      Haha I think you are forgetting that the NHL, just like any other sport, is a business. You aren’t going to leave millions of dollars on the table. He was still under contract. Like I said, your beef should be with the front office for giving him such an absurd contract. You should be more concerned with Richards and the mortgage of a contract that he received.

  2. TJ - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Come on. The guy had no suitors with his bum knee. It’s August. Don’t you think he would have signed somewhere by now?

  3. stakex - Aug 19, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Can’t say I’m shocked to see this. Drury was a good player a few years ago, and I doubt anyone at the time would have thought he would be retiring at this point… but the fact is his production hit rock bottom. Throw in a bad knee, and hes just way too much of a risk to throw any kind of money at.

    I doubt there was absolutely no intrest in him. However, its unlikely anyone was willing to pay him what he would have wanted. After all, with his ability to kill penelties and score a clutch goal or two he might have been worth the risk for a very cheap price…. perhaps even the league minimum. I’m sure however pride would not allow Drury to play for the league minimum, and I can’t say I would blame him.

    Either way I would expect Drury to return to hockey in some form or another over the next year or two. No matter what anyone can say about Drury over the years, one things certain… he loves the game. He’ll be back, even if its in a suit.

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