Roman Hamrlik, one of the NHL’s longest-tenured defencemen, has announced his retirement after 20 seasons.
Hamrlik, 39, was the first draft pick in Tampa Bay Lightning history, going first overall in 1992. He played parts of six seasons with the Bolts before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers during the 1997-98 season. From there, he also played for the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, and most recently the New York Rangers.
However, he didn’t receive a contract for this season, prompting him to end his career.
Hamrlik’s best season came in 1995-96 with the Lightning, when he posted 16 goals and 49 assists for 65 points. Overall, Hamrlik finishes his career with 155 goals and 483 assists for 638 points in 1,395 NHL games, good for an average of about 31 points per season. He was also a three-time NHL All-Star, having been selected in 1996, 1999, and 2003.
Though he came into the league with offensive talents, Hamrlik wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, eclipsing 100 penalty minutes twice in his career (1993-94 and 1995-96, both with Tampa Bay) and finishing with 1,408 penalty minutes in total.
Hamrlik also represented the Czech Republic throughout his career, including appearances at the World Junior Hockey Championships, the World Championships, and the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 and 2004. He’s also a former two-time Olympian, having won gold with the Czech Republic in 1998, and playing again in 2002.
According to Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Hamrlik’s retirement means Ed Jovanovski is now the oldest former first overall pick still playing in the NHL, though he’s on injured reserve after knee and hip injuries limited him to six games last season. After those two, Chris Phillips is the next oldest top pick, having gone first off the board to Ottawa in 1996.
Roman Hamrlik was rarely asked to carry teams on the blue line, but he was always a serviceable option even toward the end of his career. We just hope Miley Cyrus doesn’t go anywhere near him, as we hear she has a thing for licking hammers.
All jokes aside, Hamrlik was always well-respected in the league, and now he can ride off into the sunset.