Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blues' McDonald plans to call it a career

Reports indicate 12-year veteran plans to hang it up;
Nichol retires, hired by Nashville to head up their player development

By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- A prosperous career that included a Stanley Cup in 2007, unfortunately for Andy McDonald, the ride has apparently been cut short because of injury.

After a history of concussions, McDonald will retire from the NHL because of potential concussion concerns (McDonald was unavailable for comment).

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Andy McDonald (10) is reportedly calling it a career after 12 seasons in the
NHL, including the last five-plus with the Blues.
The Strathroy, Ontario native, who has had a history of concussions throughout his 12-year career (including the last five-plus seasons with the Blues), was part of the Anaheim Ducks' Cup-winning squad that beat the Ottawa Senators in 2007. He ends his career with 689 games played (294 with the Blues) and 489 points (230 with the Blues) as well as 56 playoff games played and 37 playoff points, including 10 goals and 14 points in 21 games for the Ducks' championship team.

But after suffering six concussions over an 11-year career, stating concerns over the injury issues moving forward and the possibility of having to make another move if he wasn't brought back into the fold with the Blues, the 35-year-old McDonald has decided it might be best to call it quits while he still maintains his health.

McDonald has been one of the more outspoken players regarding concussions and has lobbied the league to take a more permanent stance in changing the rules of the game that helps eliminate head injuries. He was especially outspoken when rookie Vladimir Tarasenko suffered a concussion earlier this past season in Colorado.

"I'd like to see the league get away from those types of hits," McDonald said then. "You can still have a physical game, an intense game. Obviously the fans love that, but the players that are making hits, we've got to get away from going in and making contact with the head.

"... It's too dangerous ... the health implications on those hits are too severe. It's not worth it. You can still have a physical game without that part of it. It's unfortunate for our team and for Vladi. I'm biased, I've been through it and you hate to see those hits. Every time I see it, it's frustrating."

After suffering a second concussion with the Blues in a 10 1/2-month span in 2011 and wasn't sure then about returning to the game after going through another lengthy rehab stint. But he vowed to return and even came into last season (before the lockout lengthened the off-season and felt better than ever. It's quite the contrast to where McDonald is today.

"Physically I feel 25 again and I'm really looking forward to this year," McDonald said in September of 2012. "... I think you play so many years with injuries and things going on, you don't realize what good health is. I feel great. I had a really good off-season. I'm healthy."

McDonald went on to post 21 points in 37 games this season - he missed 11 games with a left knee injury -- but was shut out in six playoff games in a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

McDonald is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July and there were no guarantees he was part of the Blues' plans moving forward. With that thought in mind as well, the idea of moving his family could have also played a factor in McDonald's decision. He just completed a four-year, $18.8-million contract he signed in 2009.


An undrafted free agent signee out of Colgate University, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound McDonald began his career in 2000 as a center with the Ducks before eventually moving to left wing.

McDonald spent the first six-plus seasons with the Ducks and was an important catalyst on the Cup-winning team. He was ultimately traded to the Blues in what turned out to be a cost-cutting move for the Ducks, who got veteran center Doug Weight, prospect Michal Birner and a 2008 seventh-round draft pick in return.

McDonald has become a partner with R.E.A. Homes, LLC and the likelihood of keeping his family in St. Louis is a high probability.

McDonald is the second Blue to announce his retirement in two days after veteran center Scott Nichol announced his retirement after a 662-game career that spanned 13 seasons with Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Nashville, San Jose and the Blues.

Nichol, who missed the final 14 games of the regular season and the entire playoff series against the Kings with an abdominal injury and was also set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, was immediately hired by the Predators to become their director of player development.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Scott Nichol (12) has also called it a career in the NHL after 13 seasons. He
spent the last two playing in St. Louis for the Blues.
Nichol spent the last two seasons with the Blues, who signed the faceoff specialist to be a key cog to their fourth-line success, which included winning faceoffs and being a stout penalty killer. He totaled 56 goals and 127 points after being drafted by the Sabres in the 11th round in 1993.

The Blues also took in a bit of surprising news that center Jori Lehtera, a third-round pick in 2008, has decided to pass up the chance for the time being to play in the NHL after signing a two-year contract extension to remain with Sibir Novosibirsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said at the team's cleanup day following the conclusion of the season recently that the Blues wanted Lehtera.

"We've talked to him about what his plans are for the summer and next season," Armstrong said. "We'd like to have him. It's up to him whether he wants to come."

Apparently the 25-year-old Lehtera, who is coming off a 17-goal, 48-point season in the KHL, received a lucrative offer than the one-way NHL contract the Blues offered, which has been reported to be at least $1 million per season.

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