Kronwall Knew It Was Time To Go
For the longest time, Niklas Kronwall was pretty sure that he was done playing in the National Hockey League. He just wanted to be certain.
“I think looking back, I’ve probably known for a while,” Kronwall admitted Wednesday to Mlive.com at a news conference to officially announce his retirement from the NHL. “A lot of it is just making sure I didn’t say anything too soon. I wanted to make sure I didn’t get into training and then change my mind and still wanted to play.
“So looking back, I’ve probably known for a long time but it wasn’t until not too long ago that it was completely clear that it wasn’t going to be any more.”
In retirement, Kronwall did what he’s done his whole career as a Red Wing. He put others first - his team, his teammates and his family.
Physically, he was certain that he could keep playing. To continue, though, he also recognized, was not in the best interests of so many.
“I felt actually really good last year,” Kronwall said. “Body-wise, I felt like I was able to move better than I have previous few years. A few years before that, I think I kind of struggled a little bit through the whole year, to be honest with you. Last year I felt more like I could still do this.
“I think that gave me some peace that I know I can do this but there are other things in life. I think there’s a time for everything and I just think it’s time. It’s time for me to see my kids a little bit more than I have. They’re at an age now where there will be more activities and I’m very excited about that.
“For the team as well, I think it was time.”
One Thousand Not On
If there was a bittersweet factor in his decision, it was that Kronwall fell just 47 games shy of the 1000-game milestone.
Certainly, losing the entire 2004-05 season and part of the 2012-13 campaign to NHL owner lockouts cost him this milestone. But Kronwall wasn’t convinced that playing another season would get him there, either.
“Would I have hit 1000?” he asked. “We don’t know. We don’t know. I don’t know if that’s something that’s going to change anything. I always looked at 1000 as something extremely special. I always had so much respect for guys that have played 1,000 games.
“I wish I would have played 1,000 games. But at the same time, the situation is what it is and I feel at peace with the decision. I know it’s the right call. I’m happy for the guys that have reached 1,000. Unfortunately, I won’t.”
Kronwalled No More Forever
The one aspect of his career that Kronwall was reluctant to discuss was his greatest hits. He showed no interest in singling out any of his punishing body checks - the Kronwalling of opponents, as it was known.
“I’d rather not talk about that to be honest with you, with all due respect,” Kronwall said. “I didn’t think too much about it, to be honest with you. I think it’s up to the media and the fans to show their feelings for certain things.
“It never bothered me one bit. It was just part of the game. You hit and you get hit. Mikko Koivu knocked me out a few years ago and that’s just part of the game. You give some, you take some, you get up and you go back to work.”
Kronwall believes that moving into his new position as an advisor to Wings GM Steve Yzerman will help to ease his transition away from the ice.
I think so, definitely,” he said. “No question about it. It won’t be a hard cutoff from everything.
“I still get to be a part of this, and I’m excited for the challenge. I know everything comes back to, again, hard work, to prove you’re worth the shot.
“I’m excited to get started.”
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