What kind of an effect can alumni games have on a hockey player? Apparently, they help retired ones get the itch again.
After participating in the Winter Classic alumni game last week at Comerica Park in Detroit, former NHL defenseman Brian Rafalski has decided to attempt a comeback almost three years after he retired.
On Thursday, the ECHL's Florida Everblades announced that they had come to "contract terms" with the 40-year old blueliner.
Rafalski, 40, notched 515 points in 11 NHL seasons, split between the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings.
The Dearborn, Mich., native won three Stanley Cups: 2000 and 2003 with the Devils and 2008 with the Red Wings. He was also on the blue line for Team USA at the last three Winter Olympic Games, taking the Silver Medal in 2002 and 2010.
“I’m just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey,” added Rafalski, who had retired from professional hockey following the Red Wings’ exit from the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Via the Craig Handel of the News-Press, Everblades head coach Greg Poss said that Rafalski would like to play in the NHL again.
There is a connection between Rafalski and the Everblades. Since retiring in 2011, he and his family settled near Fort Myers, Florida and Rafalski has been a youth coach for the Everblades. Also, according to Handel, he's acted as the team's chaplain.
The target for his return is Friday night as the Everblades take on the South Carolina Stingrays.
Stick-tap Andy Zilch
UPDATE: According to MLive.com's Ansar Khan, Rafalski, who retired with one year left on his contract, was granted his release from the Red Wings last week to become an unrestricted free agent. If he succeeds in his comeback attempt and decided to progress to a potential AHL situation, Khan says that Detroit would speak to him.
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