DETROIT – Saying he never could have imagined playing over 1,000 NHL games and winning four Stanley Cups, Detroit Red Wings’ forward Kirk Maltby announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Maltby, 37, played 14 seasons with the Red Wings, mostly as a key member of the team’s “Grind Line” that shut down opposing scorers and helped the Wings win four Stanley Cups while he was in Detroit.
“When I won my first Cup (if) my career would have ended the next day, I would have been satisfied,” said Maltby, who choked up several times during the press conference at Joe Louis Arena. “But winning four Stanley Cups and representing my country and winning a couple of times exceed my expectations.”
He played the first two seasons of his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers.
Maltby’s contract expired at the end of last season and he signed a two-way contract with the opportunity to make the team. He played well in exhibitions but not well enough to earn a spot in a deep forward group. Maltby decided not to join Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.
“I knew what the situation was from talking to Kenny (Detroit vice-president and general manager Ken Holland) a bunch of times over the summer,” he said.
Holland said Maltby never complained when his role, ice time and salary diminished as he got older and even took younger players under his wing.
“Maybe his greatest gift to us all this time has been absolutely no ego,” Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s come every day whether he played six minutes, 12 minutes or 18 minutes or whatever he did. He’s just a professional and did it right.”
Maltby is not leaving the Red Wings, however, he’ll remain in the organization as a pro scout.