Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Shutting It Down

The man wearing #28 in the picture to the left is finally done with hockey. Brian Rafalski, who last suited up for the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL, wanted to give hockey one more shot before he finally called it quits for a career. He un-retired to join the ECHL's Florida Everblades about three weeks ago, but it appears that the career restart is now over as Rafalski has re-retired, this time for good. After being limited to just three games with the Everblades due to lingering back problems, Rafalski will step away from the game once more, knowing that he gave it one final shot.

Rafalski will officially retire with a single assist in his three-game return with the Everblades. That single assist came on January 18 as Rafalski was the lone helper on Mathieu Roy's 16th goal of the season that came at 9:44 of the third period against the Orlando Solar Bears. In the three games that Rafalski played in, the Everblades went 1-1-1. According to reports, Rafalski's back acted up during his first game on January 10, and then had more problems in his next two games on January 17 and 18.

"I'm done," Rafalski told the Fort Myers News-Press. "My back is no good. That was one of the hurdles. After playing two games, it inflamed the nerves in my back so I'm done. I felt like I played pretty well the last game. I was getting my timing and the game seemed to slow down."

It appears Rafalski will remain in Florida and work with the team "as a spiritual adviser who holds chapel for the players". I'm not here to rain on anyone's parade, so good on Rafalski for helping the team off the ice if he cannot play on the ice.

"He did a really good job for us, and we're grateful to have him for those games," head coach Greg Poss told the Detroit Free Press. "He's a really good person to have around the team.

"He was battling back to get in shape but at the same time, when you get injured like that, it's hard to get in shape. You're fighting an uphill battle. It's just hard to play pro sports at 40."

In other Everblades news, former University of Manitoba goaltender Jesse Deckert was a starter for the Everblades, but it appears his season is over already. According to reports, Deckert suffered a season-ending upper-body injury sometime in November before the ECHL club suspended him indefinitely on December 9, allowing them to open a roster spot for another goaltender.

Deckert was 6-1-2 this season with the Everblades, posting a 2.71 GAA and a .891 save percentage. He recorded all nine of his starts between October 25 and November 9, and looked like he was going to make another incredible run like he did in the previous season with Florida. Along with Kristers Gudlevskis, the two goalies led the Everblades to a 8-1-2 record through the first eleven games before Deckert went down with his injury.

The Everblades will soldier on without Brian Rafalski and without Jesse Deckert. They are tied for second-place in the South Division with their in-state rivals in the Orlando Solar Bears, but the Solar Bears do have a game in-hand. They trail the division-leading South Carolina Stingrays by 12 points, and currently sit in sixth-place in the Eastern Conference.

Best of luck to Brian Rafalski in his re-retirement, and best of luck to Jesse Deckert as he works to get healthy once again!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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