SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 08: Brian Rafalski #28 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates after scoring in the second period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 8, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Brian Rafalski Retires; American Defenseman Won Three Stanley Cups, Two Olympic Medals

Brian Rafalski has retired from the NHL. After 11 seasons, the Detroit Red Wings defenseman decided to hang up the skates thanks to knee problems.

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Brian Rafalski Retires After 11 NHL Seasons

Brian Rafalski, one of the best American defenseman to play in the NHL, called it a career on Wednesday morning. The 37-year-old leaves the Detroit Red Wings with one more year left on his contract and $6 million on the table. 

He noted injury woes as the reason for hanging up the skates before his contract was up, saying that "there wasn't a day when I wasn't on the training table" during the just-completed season. Rafalski had arthroscopic knee surgery in October and there were reports that he played in the postseason without an ACL, which is all sorts of insane.

Rafalski also mentioned the importance of spending time with his family. Healthy time.

"The decision was made about two months ago, with my wife, weighing different factors in our lives," he said. "With hockey not being at the top, it was time to move on."

$6 million dollars or a chance to spend time with his family -- time that he won't be able to get back? Yeah, commendable decision. And it's not like Rafalski should have any regrets about his career, either. He played 833 games and won three Stanley Cups, plus two Olympic silver medals. Hell of a career.

For more on Rafalski's retirement, check in with our Red Wings blog, Winging It In Motown.

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Brian Rafalski Set To Retire Thursday, Reports Say

The Detroit Red Wings are losing another piece of the puzzle. 

According to various reports and originally reported by Sportsnet, defenseman Brian Rafalski will retire from the NHL later this week, potentially during a Wednesday press conference. He has a year remaining on his contract with the Wings at $6 million.

Rafalski, 37, dealt with knee problems over the course of the regular season. He had surgery in October and still played 63 games during the regular season, but there are reports out there that he was severely hurting in the postseason. It makes sense. He's clearly lost a step defensively.

All in all, if he does indeed retire, it's been a fantastic run. Truly one of the best American defenseman to play the game. For the Red Wings, it means a whole bunch of extra cap space to replace him. That could be interesting come July.

For more on Rafalski's pending retirement, check in with Winging It In Motown and SB Nation Detroit.

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