Sabres D Patrick retires, accepts assistant coaching position

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) - The theme is “Retirement Week” in the NHL.

Defenseman James Patrick of the Buffalo Sabres became the third prominent NHL player in as many days to call it quits.

Patrick announced his retirement on Thursday, but will remain with the organization as a skill development coach.

On Tuesday, 13-time All-Star Scott Stevens - the all-time leader among defensemen with 1,635 games played - announced his retirement after a 22-year career. He will remain with the New Jersey Devils in a role yet to be determined.

On Wednesday, four-time All-Star center Vincent Damphousse, who recorded 1,205 points in 1,378 games, announced his retirement.

Veteran free agent centers Mark Messier and Ron Francis - who are first and second, respectively, among active players on the all-time list for games played - have yet to address their future plans. Sixth on the list, defenseman Al MacInnis is expected to announce his retirement Friday.

Patrick, 42, spent the last six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and was a key player on the team which reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999.

In 2003-04, Patrick still averaged nearly 19 minutes a game of ice time at age 40, but missed 27 games due to injuries. He had a plus-minus rating of plus-11 with four goals and seven assists.

A first-round pick of the New York Rangers in 1981, Patrick played in 1,280 games with four teams - the Rangers, Hartford, Calgary and Buffalo - and compiled 149 goals and 490 assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-104.

Patrick set career highs with 17 goals and 62 points for the Rangers in 1987-88.

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Updated Friday, Sep 9, 2005