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Sandis Ozolinsh calls it a career

May 27, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

SandisOzolinsh Getty Images

Arguably the greatest Latvian hockey player ever is hanging up his skates.

Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, a seven-time NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup champion, announced his retirement from professional hockey on Tuesday, per Latvian news outlet Sporta Centrs.

Ozolinsh, 41, was taken 30th overall at the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by San Jose and enjoyed success with the Sharks — he still holds the franchise record for points by a defenseman in a single season (64) — but garnered his highest accolades with Colorado in the late 90s.

He won a Stanley Cup with the Avs in ’96, scoring 19 points in 22 playoff games, and finished third in Norris voting a year later, behind Vladimir Konstantinov and eventual winner Brian Leetch.

From there, Ozolinsh would bounce around the league with stops in Carolina, Florida, Anaheim (with whom he’d get to another Cup Final) and New York, before taking a year’s hiatus from hockey and returning to the KHL for Latvian club side Dinamo Riga in 2009. In the KHL, Ozolish re-established himself as an elite-level defenseman, appearing in four All-Star Games while making one final appearance for the Latvian national team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, leading his country to a near upset of Canada in the tournament quarterfinals.

Ozolinsh retires as the highest-scoring Latvian NHLer of all time, and will now reportedly turn his attention to the political realm.

  1. 950003cups - May 27, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Who?

    • 19to77 - May 27, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      He was a powerhouse offensive D in the mid-to-late 90’s, albeit quite like a Letang/Karlsson in terms of his own-zone play. High-risk, high-reward – he’d have Avs fans screaming at our TVs sometimes on turnovers, but cheering his work on the power play a short while later. Huge contributor to the first Cup and equally huge in the 98-99 and 99-00 postseasons too. Four times over the 50-point mark. He was an electrifying player in his prime. Go learn your hockey history, young man.

    • m4a188 - May 27, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      Figures you don’t know who he was, you were a baby when he was playing excellent hockey.

    • phillyphanatic77 - May 27, 2014 at 10:06 PM

      Man if that’s a serious comment then someone needs a major refresher in 90s and early 2000s hockey. You’re a NJ fan who obviously wasn’t cognizant during the ’95 Cup that graces your name. The guy was arguably the best offensive dman in the game during his prime. And was just another huge piece on a few powerhouse Avs teams. That ’96 team was stacked… Sakic, Forsberg, Kamensky, Ricci, Claude Lemieux, Deadmarsh, Foote, Roy and Ozolinsh was the man on the blueline. 7-time NHL All Star and 4-time KHL All Star is pretty impressive.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - May 27, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      Let me guess. Die hard hockey fan since 2005.

  2. storminator16 - May 27, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    When he was on, he was dynamite. However, at times the puck was a grenade when it was on his stick. Some of the most brutal turnovers I ever saw in hockey were made by this guy. One of the most entertaining players of the late ’90s no matter how you view him.

  3. matt14gg - May 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Pretty great career. He was never a dominant player, but he just chugged along and played for some very good teams and earned some hardware along the way. He’s not Jagr, but he’s still a well respected guy who had a career 99.9% of professional hockey players would kill for.

  4. pjblake2redwings - May 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    great player. loved watching him play against the Wings when he was in town with the Avs. Great Defenseman.. I did however think he already retired a few years ago. So many players retire every summer when they had left the NHL 4-6 years prior its great seeing them pop up again

  5. eglsfan - May 27, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    and who can forget his pulldown of Roenick in the 1996 playoffs……also at the time married into a Latvian fam……being a JR/Chicago fan, not a good mix…needless to say we are divorced

  6. govtminion - May 27, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Some of my fondest memories of the mid-’90s Avs were watching Ozo take off into the attacking zone, and poor Mike Keane being stuck back there alone to face the puck coming the other way if it didn’t work- you could almost feel Keane’s body language be like “oh no, not AGAIN!”.

    Loved Ozo though, I assumed he’d been retired for years- glad to see his career continued overseas with success. One of my favorite guys from the old Avs days.

  7. Viesturs Liepkalns - May 28, 2014 at 4:04 AM

    Guy is actually in a better shape than he was in his last NHL seasons, he managed to deal with his drinking problem that plagued his NHL career and completely transform his image in the eyes of Latvian fans.

    If somebody told me 6 years ago Ozo would be the top example of pro sportsman in Latvia, I wouldn’t believe it. The guy who was openly drinking through Olympic Games in Turin in 2006….

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