A short, talented white guy has decided to retire when many felt that he still had a few good years left in him. Fortunately for all of you, I’m not talking about myself. Brian Rafalski has decided to call it quits after 11 NHL seasons, the last four of which he spent in Detroit.
Rafalski, a Dearborn native, has been a key part of the Red Wings’ blue line over the past four years, including the back-to-back runs to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009. His presence on the Red Wings’ powerplay made it the most dangerous in the league during that time frame, and no one will ever forget the goal he scored in Game 5 of the 2008 Finals (unfortunately, no one will forget what happened later on either).
Between this and the possible retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, the Wings could have a drastically different outlook on next season. What was once a foregone conclusion that they would make the playoffs for a 21st consecutive season could be in serious jeopardy if #5 decides to follow Rafalski into retirement.