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Retirement looming? Bolts’ Ohlund (knee) says chances of return ‘smaller and smaller each day’

Apr 8, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT

Mattias Ohlund Getty Images

Sounds like Mattias Ohlund is ready to call it a day.

That was the word out of Tampa Bay over the weekend as the 36-year-old defenseman — who hasn’t played in 18 months — said his inability to recover from knee surgery has probably ended his career.

“I’ve thought about [the next step] quite a bit, but it clearly involves more people than me,” Ohlund told the Tampa Tribune on Sunday. “I’ve spoke to Steve [Yzerman, Tampa Bay GM] quite a bit about what the end result will be.

“For a long period of time I’ve been trying to get better and better, but clearly the longer you don’t play, the likelihood of playing again gets smaller and smaller each day, especially at my age.”

The Tribune notes that Ohlund has spent “hundreds of hours” doing rehab and workouts in an effort to improve his surgically-repaired knee, with little success.

Last May, he underwent a procedure in which a thin layer of titanium was used to resurface the bottom of the femur behind his kneecap.

Essentially, it was supposed to create a cushion where cartilage — which Ohlund had worn away — usually covers the bone. Without that cushion, the veteran blueliner was experiencing painful bone-on-bone rubbing at the knee-femur joint.

Ohlund has been traveling with the team lately as a coaching assistant, lending an “extra set of eyes” to rookie head coach Jon Cooper.

As for when a decision might be made about the Swede’s playing future?

“I don’t know long term what my situation will be,” Ohlund told the Tribune. “But I’m sure it will be figured out shortly.”

  1. sunking1 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Face it.. Ohlund continues to rehab because if he retires he loses his contract pay. He has had no expectations of making it back as a player (from the Tampa bay Times newspaper today “Lightning D Mattias Ohlund knows his playing career is over. He said as much in January, 11 months after partial replacement surgery on his left knee did not achieve the desired results. The question now is how he chooses to retire.”)

    Frankly, it seems longer than 18 months that he has been out. Unfortuantely, a player like Ohlund is exactly what this team needs. A physical, stand’em up at the blue line/eliminate the puck carrier player as opposed to a poke check/play in the box D-man.

    I hope he can live relatively pain free post hockey career and enjoy his life but he has no hope of playing in the NHL again.

  2. oquintero99 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    That knee-to-knee rubbing is really painful. Hopefully he could at least return to hockey in some way or another.

    So if he retires, he still gets paid doesnt he? And it will count against the cap as well? Anybody has an insight on this? It seems TB could be buying his contract this summer

    • elvispocomo - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      It’s not a 35+ contract as he signed it when he was ~33 so if he retires it’s done. Salo’s is a 35+ contract which would continue if he retired for any reason, but Ohlund is following the Pronger/Savard (less Pronger as his is a 35+ and more Savard) model where they’re very unlikely to ever play again but aren’t retiring in the hope they can play again while still receiving a paycheck.

    • elvispocomo - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      I should mention as well you can’t buyout an injured player, so Ohlund will either stay as is or retire – that is unless the Islanders want to trade a conditional pick for him.

  3. canucks30 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Best defenseman in Canucks history which isn’t saying much but still a solid player who has had to overcome adversity early in his career in the form of a serious eye injury.

    Unfortunately, years of matching up against the likes of Sakic, Forsberg, Iginla, Smyth, and Gaborik among others have taken a toll on his body.

    • elvispocomo - Apr 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      You can’t forget Lumme and Kearns, and Edler will have a place in there when his career is done, but Ohlund definitely has his spot cemented in the team’s history. Great player and hard to see him go out like this.

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