It’s funny to me how – in the weeks leading up to training camp – there’s always an avalanche of players announcing that they are retiring from hockey. Like they didn’t know the day was coming. Or they simply didn’t want to accept the inevitable.

And I get it. I’ve been there. My last professional game was in April of 2019, yet I waited until August to announce my own retirement. And I only did so when I had a new job lined up in broadcasting. Even though I knew I was done playing, I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot by announcing it too early.

For all I knew, an NHL team might have come along with an offer I couldn’t refuse. I mean, with my middling career, it wasn’t likely. But stranger things have happened. And I did receive a few exploratory phone calls from NHL teams that summer. But in my heart of hearts, I knew I was done. It was time.

I always look on with wonder when players like Zdeno Chara, Keith Yandle, and PK Subban hang on until the very last moments of summer to make their retirement official. And what’s interesting about these three is that each had very different circumstances.

It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Yandle was going to hang up the skates after finishing out his one-year contract for the 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. He ended with an NHL-worst minus-47 rating and posted just 19 points in 77 games. 

After playing in 989 consecutive games over 13 NHL seasons, Yandle saw his ironman streak come to an end when then-Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo chose to healthy scratch the veteran defenseman on April 2, 2022.

Yandle finished his career with 619 points in 1,109 regular season games: impressive numbers for a defenseman. I don’t think anyone was surprised when Yandle decided to retire at the age of 35. That’s pretty normal for a hockey player.

But normal doesn’t define someone like Chara, who managed to extend his NHL career until he was 45 years old.