Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending an eleven-year NHL career.
“This was probably the most challenging season of my career, physically, mentally, emotionally,” Rafalski said during a Joe Louis Arena press conference.
Rafalski missed time during the 2010-11 campaign with back and knee injuries, limiting him to only 63 games played, the fewest in his career.
He said he made the decision with his wife two months ago.
In 833 regular season games played, Rafalski totalled 79 goals and 436 assists for 515 points.
Rafalski never missed the playoffs in his career, making the postseason in each of his seven years with the New Jersey Devils and then four more times with Detroit. He won three Stanley Cups in that time, two with the Devils and one with the Red Wings.
His route to the NHL was a unique one. After playing four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Rafalski went undrafted. He headed to Europe, proving himself over four seasons in Sweden and Finland before New Jersey signed him as a free agent in 1999.
A Dearborn native, Rafalski came to the hometown Red Wings in 2007 via free agency.
Outside of his NHL career, Rafalski made two Olympic appearances for the United States, helping the team to silver medals in 2002 and 2010.