It is the end of an era today, as famed defenseman Rob Blake has announced his retirement from the National Hockey League on Friday. The current captain of the San Jose Sharks has played 20 seasons in the NHL, including time spent with the Los Angeles Kings and the Colorado Avalanches. The hockey world quickly showed their respect for Blake immediately following his announcement.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan did not attend the announcement, but praised Blake when reached by phone. According to NHL.com, McLellan stated that Blake “leaves a standard of excellence for the Sharks to live up to.” Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson shared a similarly positive sentiment and called Blake a great role model for kids playing hockey all across North America. Former L.A. Kings teammate Luc Robitaille, who is currently a front-office executive for the Kings, released a video congratulating Blake and said that Blake had “an amazing career.”
Blake himself stated that he was extremely proud in making his NHL aspirations as a youngster from Simcoe, Ontario come true. It’s most likely that Blake’s career achievements, such as winning the Norris Trophy in 1997-98, seven All-Star Game appearances, and 777 points in 1,270 regular-season appearances, are above and beyond the ambitions he had growing up.
The Sharks had a fairly successful season, but were soundly beaten by the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. After the sweet, Blake said it did not take a long period of time for him to come to grips with reality and the status of his career.
According to Blake: “Physically I probably felt as good as I felt at the end of the playoffs, but a lot of that has to do with the medical staff in San Jose and what they do to allow you to play at that level… It just seemed like the right time. I've enjoyed the 20 years, and it's time to move on to the next step in hockey."
For Blake, the next step seems to likely involve executive employment for one of his former franchises. Sharks GM Doug Wilson even joked to Blake’s wife Brandy: “When you get a little tired of him being around the house, give me a call and we'll find something to keep him busy.”
Blake, on the other hand, is starting his post-playing aspirations slowly. Besides from spending time with his family, he intends on being an assistant coach on his son’s hockey team. "I've already been signed up," Blake quipped. "I got the assistant job, not the head job yet."
Blake’s illustrious career began in 1988 when he was drafted 70th overall by the Kings in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. He then played all, or parts of, 14 seasons for the Kings. In Los Angeles Blake had his first Stanley Cup Final appearance, playing well throughout L.A.’s five game series loss to the Montreal Canadiens. He was also the team’s captain from 1996 until his trade to Colorado in 2001. Blake then spent four seasons with the Avalanche, winning the Stanley Cup during his first year there.
He then returned to L.A. for a two-year stretch prior to settling into his current position as the captain of the Sharks. Though the Sharks now lack a captain, Blake is confident the team has a plethora of players capable of taking over for him, specifically mentioning Devin Setoguchi.
Throughout his lengthy career Blake has amassed some serious statistical accolades for a defenseman. As of his retirement, Blake ranks 20th all-time in games played, 18th in points, and 10th in goals amongst defensemen. He is eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013, and given his success on the ice and lovable blue-collar temperament, Blake’s chances of acceptance seem high.