February 21, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Vinny Prospal (22) celebrates after scoring on Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Columbus won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Vinny Prospal Officially Announces Retirement

Mar 14, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

After 16 NHL seasons, and a memorable finish with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013, Vinny Prospal officially announced his retirement today.

Prospal was drafted 71st overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1993 NHL Draft. He made his debut with the Flyers during the 1996-97 season, but was traded to the Ottawa Senators a year later. He spent four seasons in Ottawa before being traded to the Florida Panthers. He signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2001, and spent two years there before signing with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for a season. He returned to Tampa Bay in 2005, and played there until 2009 (with a trade to Philly for 18 games during the 2007-08 season). Prospal then went to the Big Apple for two seasons with the Rangers. He finally ended up with the Columbus Blue Jackets for his last two seasons.

In his 1,108 NHL games, Prospal finished with 255 goals and 765 points. He recorded five 20 goal seasons, 34 game winning goals, and scored 10 goals (35 points) during the NHL playoffs. [ NHLPA ]

In announcing his retirement, Prospal said,

I want to thank my teammates and coaches who helped me enjoy a 20-year professional hockey career when very few thought I would play even one NHL game. I sincerely want to thank the fans who have been so good to me, treating me with such kindness and respect, for the 20 years I have played here in North America in both the NHL and the AHL. Playing in the NHL was a dream. To play at the highest level for 16 years, with the best players in the world is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

-Courtesy of NHLPA Press Release

Prospal provided a valuable veteran presence in the Columbus Blue Jackets locker room, and played an important role in their late surge towards the playoffs last March and April. He really won over the hearts and minds of fans in a March 9th game against the Detroit Redwings when he exited a scrum and pointed up at the scoreboard. It was a defiant moment that earned Prospal a 10 minute game misconduct, but rallied Blue Jackets fans.

When he signed with Columbus, Prospal was believed to have a verbal agreement with then Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to join the Jackets front office upon his retirement. However, it became apparent that that agreement did not carry over to the new John Davidson / Jarmo Kekalainen administration.

After spending the first half of the 2013-14 season waiting for the call to play elsewhere, Prospal initially accepted an offer of a tryout contract with the Vancouver Canucks AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. After a change of mind, Prospal declined the offer and has instead decided to bring his storied 20 year career to a conclusion.

Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets

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