Martin Havlat announced his retirement from hockey on Wednesday after 790 games over 14 NHL seasons.
Drafted 26th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1999 NHL Draft, Havlat was a steady producer over his career when healthy. On those early 2000s Senators teams, he was a key piece to one of the league’s best offensive teams. He finishes with career with 242 goals and 594 points.
“That was fast. I feel like I was just getting started in the NHL a short while ago. I would love to continue playing but my body will not allow me to play at the level I expect from myself. As a result, I am announcing my retirement.
“I feel very fortunate to have played in the NHL for 14 years. Rest assured, I am retiring as a grateful man. I will be forever thankful to the Ottawa Senators for helping make my childhood dream come true. I also had the privilege of playing for other exceptional organizations. I am grateful for the time spent with each team and the great teammates I had the pleasure to be around on and off the ice. I would love to thank all the fans, especially in Ottawa and Chicago for the unforgettable memories. Special appreciation goes out to Marshall Johnston, Jacques Martin, Joel Quenneville (unfortunately, I had only one season to play under the best coach in the league), Dale Tallon and Chuck Fletcher. All these men had a tremendous impact on my life and career. I would also like to thank all the doctors and trainers who were there to try and keep me in one piece; I know it was not easy. I would like to thank my agents Allan Walsh and David Schatia, for being more than just agents, fighting for me and doing the best they could.
“Finally, the greatest words of gratitude go out to my parents, my partner Ivanka and my two beautiful girls because without their love and sacrifice, my career would not have been possible. I will miss playing the game I love so much. It is time to start a new chapter in my life.”
Havlat was impactful right out of the gate. He ended his first NHL season as a Calder Trophy finalist after finishing third in scoring among rookies with 19 goals and 42 points. He also was named to the 2000-01 All-Rookie team.
In 2006, Havlat was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks where he would spend the next three seasons. His final year in Chicago, 2008-09, saw him produce the best offensive campaign of his career with 29 goals and 77 points. Havlat’s scoring prowess would continue into the postseason when he scored five goals and recorded 15 points while helping the Blackhawks reach the Western Conference Final.
During his final season in Chicago, Havlat also helped one lucky Blackhawks fan become very rich. His goal at the 10:00 mark of the second period of a January game against the Minnesota Wild meant that through an Illinois Lottery promotion one lucky season-ticket holder was $1 million richer.
That big season allowed Havlat to cash in that summer (after a bitter exit from Chicago) as he inked a six-year, $33 million deal to join the Minnesota Wild. But two years later he would be on the move to San Jose as part of a deal that sent Dany Heatley the other way. His time there was spent dealing with injury before the team bought him out in 2014.
Havlat finished up his NHL career playing with the New Jersey Devils (remember that nasty facial laceration?) and with a brief stint in St. Louis. He recently attempted a comeback in his native Czech Republic, but his body just wouldn’t allow him to proceed.
While he never won a Stanley Cup, Havlat did have a successful international career representing the Czech Republic. In 2000, he won gold at the World Junior Championship and World Championship and earned bronze medals at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and 2011 Worlds.
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