After spending 21 seasons in the National Hockey League, Paul Coffey wanted to spend some more time with his family.

One of the game's most decorated defencemen officially announced his retirement in a press release on Wednesday.

"I'm at peace with myself," Coffey told the Globe and Mail on Tuesday. "I did what I wanted to do play in the NHL for 21 seasons.

 
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"Priorities change. As a professional athlete, your life has to be dominated by hockey, giving an effort north of 100 per cent. My family is where my life is at right now."

Coffey, 40, leaves the game with an impressive resume.

He's won four Stanley Cups, three Canada Cups and three Norris Trophies. He was named a first-team all-star four times. His 1,531 career points put him second only to another future Hall of Famer, Ray Bourque, on career scoring by a defenceman.

Coffey's hockey career began with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980, when he was drafted sixth overall by the franchise in the NHL entry draft.

Coffey, who leads all defencemen in playoff points with 196, quickly developed into a scoring threat on the blue line and helped lead the Oilers dynasty to three championships.

After making the move to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he had the rare opportunity to play with another superstar, Mario Lemieux.

He won his last Stanley Cup ring with the Pens in 1991.

"All my teammates are memorable from Wayne to Mark Messier to Jari Kurri to Kevin Lowe to Charlie Huddy to a young Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh who wanted to take the city of Pittsburgh to the top," Coffey said.

"He was so determined. Throughout his career, Wayne made the players around him better, but Mario dominated and did everything himself [in 1990-91]."

The smooth-skating defenceman played for a number of teams during his later years, making stops in Los Angeles, Detroit, Hartford, Philadelphia, Chicago and then Carolina before he played in his last NHL game as a member of the Boston Bruins on Dec. 4 in Atlanta.

"For me, the glass was full," said Coffey, who played 20 minutes and 54 seconds in a 5-4 loss to the Thrashers. "I had accomplished everything I wanted to do. I knew when I was finished in Boston, that it was pretty much it.

Coffey said he turned down two offers last season to return to the game.

"Bryan Berard is back playing because he is young and still has a huge void to fill. For me, that void was exhausted.

"Plus, being happy at home and very content makes the transition easy."

Coffey and his wife, Stephanie, will settle in Toronto to raise their two children, Savannah and Blake.