RALEIGH, N.C. – For the past decade, Glen Wesley helped shepherd the Carolina Hurricanes from homeless vagabonds in North Carolina to Stanley Cup champions.
Now, the last remaining original Hurricane is calling it a career.
After 20 seasons in the NHL and 13 as one of the most popular faces of the Hurricanes’ franchise, Wesley announced his retirement Thursday because of family reasons. The team then gave the defenceman a job in the front office and pledged to retire his No. 2 jersey.
“It’s time for me to move on,” Wesley said.
The 39-year-old veteran of two decades in the NHL is the only player to have played in each of the Hurricanes’ 10 seasons since the team once known as the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina.
Wesley was around for two seasons worth of 1 1/2-hour bus trips to Greensboro, where the Hurricanes played before acres of empty green seats and a curtained-off upper deck while their permanent arena in Raleigh was under construction. And he emerged as a steadying force in the dressing room during Carolina’s 2006 Cup run.
“It seems like 30 years to me now,” Wesley said. “It’s been a process, and saying that, I think we’ve continued to grow and develop the game here. I think it’s probably been the best it’s been, and hopefully, we can continue to grow the game with the players that are on the ice, management. I think all the right things are in place here.”
The team’s alternate captain ranks sixth in NHL history among defenceman with 1,457 games played, and he is second to Ron Francis with 903 games in 13 seasons with the franchise.
“Glen was, for the most part, put in a position to play against the other team’s best players,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “His contribution, game in and game out, to me, was just as valuable as the guys that were scoring the winning goals. … He was one of the big difference-makers to get us (the Cup).”