Although Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito alluded to it last week, Patric Hornqvist has announced he will be retiring from the NHL.
Hornqvist, speaking to Sweden’s Sportsbladet, said due to the concussions which ended his past season in December, he cannot continue to play.
“Hockey has been a huge part of life ever since I was a kid, so of course it’s a difficult decision to make,” Hornqvist said as per Google translate, “but I have my injury history and don’t want to risk anything in the future. Therefore, I have finished playing. …
“I feel good now and hopefully have many good years ahead of me. With my injury history I don’t want to risk future ones.’’
Hornqvist’s final NHL game was Dec. 3 in Seattle, a game he was forced to leave early after taking an elbow to the head from Daniel Sprong.
He did not play for the Panthers following that second concussion.
Hornqvist did remain with the Panthers through the end of the season, working with the team during practices and morning skates.
He ends his NHL career with 901 games over 15 seasons with Nashville, Pittsburgh and the Panthers, scoring 264 goals with 543 points.
Hornqvist is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins — leading them to the 2017 title with a Game 6 goal in Nashville.
“That’s what you dream about when you go to bed, or what you think about when you go to bed,” Hornqvist said at the time. “You’re wishing to score one of those goals that end up being the game-winner. That’s the one.”
As far as working for the Panthers goes, Hornqvist said he is interested.
Zito said what Hornqvist wanted to do would be up to him and that the two would work together to find out what that could be.
“There is a shared interest in him being in the organization,” Zito said. “He just got back to Sweden and the family is moving there. Pretty much, we’ll find the right role whether it is in development, scouting or coaching — maybe a little bit of everything.”
Said Hornqvist: “We will see what kind of role it will be, but to begin with I will be stationed in Stockholm, we have moved back home to Sweden now. Then we wait and see how it feels in a few years.”
As the Panthers were working toward the playoffs, Hornqvist spoke to FHN after he was named the team’s Masterton Trophy nominee.
He said while it was tough not being able to play anymore, he wanted to help the Panthers in any way he could and seemed to be holding out hope that if the Panthers went far enough in the playoffs, perhaps he could come back.
Florida went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final but, alas, Hornqvist did not play again.
“It has been tough, obviously, with the injury I have,” he said.
“But I want to be in the best shape I can be in case this thing turns around here. Being on the ice obviously helps my mindset and I enjoy being around the boys. I feel good off the ice, but I am not there on the ice. …
“This is my lifestyle and I want the best kind of life after hockey and I know I have to work hard at that. When I was struggling, I did not feel very good. Once I started skating harder, things turned around.
“I felt better in my normal life and that is all that matters now. It was tough with what happened, but I was able to turn it around pretty quickly. Let’s see if I can take the next step or not. But I am not thinking about that right now.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
- Now: Free agency open
- July 9-15 (approximately): Development camp, Coral Springs
- Mid-September: Training Camp, South Florida
- Sept. 25: Preseason starts, doubleheader v. Nashville @ Sunrise
- Oct. 7: Preseason ends, vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Mid-October: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season