Poll: Owen Nolan officially retires

Owen Nolan officially announced his retirement after 18 NHL seasons on Tuesday afternoon in San Jose. Nolan, who turns 40 on Sunday, last played a full season in the league with Minnesota in 2009-10.
Owen Nolan, seen with San Jose in 2001, played 18 NHL seasons. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Owen Nolan officially announced his retirement from the NHL Tuesday afternoon in San Jose.

Nolan, who turns 40 on Sunday, last played a full season in the league with Minnesota in 2009-10.

After a season in Switzerland, he had impressive moments with Vancouver in training camp five months ago, but was not signed to a contract by the Canucks or any other club.

"I guess I've known this day was here for a while," said Nolan. "It's tough to give it up when your heart and mind wants to keep doing it. My body can't keep up and I had to accept that."

Nolan mixed skill with grit throughout his career, finishing with 422 goals and 463 assists in 1,200 NHL games to go along with 1,793 penalty minutes.

The former No. 1 draft pick retired in the city where he spent eight productive seasons, five as captain of the Sharks.

"To be a power forward in the NHL is like being a running back in the NFL," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "You take a lot of punishment and hand out a lot of punishment. To have played as long as he has, and at that level, is remarkable."

Born in Belfast, Nolan grew up in Southern Ontario in Thorold.

After two seasons with the Cornwall Royals he was selected first overall in the 1990 draft by Quebec, part of a string of three consecutive years with first overall picks for the Nordiques. Quebec selected Peter Forsberg the year before, and were forced to trade Eric Lindros in 1991 after he refused to play with the club.

Nolan scored 42 goals in his sophomore NHL season with the Nordiques in 1991-92, one of five campaigns in which he scored over 30 goals.

"Owen is a great teammate," said San Jose development coach Mike Ricci, who spent parts of 11 seasons with Nolan in Quebec, Colorado, San Jose and Phoenix. "A lot of people know how tough a skater he was but he also had great hands to go with it. He was great in tight, and had the finesse to go with the toughness. He was a unique player."

The right wing overcame a shoulder injury that scuttled most of his 1993-94 campaign and followed the franchise when it relocated to Colorado, but he would play just nine regular season games for the Avalanche.

Nolan was traded to the Sharks for Sandis Ozolinsh early in the 1995-96 season, just eight months before the Avalanche would win the Stanley Cup.

He was selected to the all-star game five times, none more memorable than in San Jose in 1997. Nolan earned MVP honours with a hat trick in the game, memorably pointing to the top corner before burying a shot past the league's top goaltender at the time, Dominik Hasek.

Nolan would move from the Sharks to Toronto in a multi-player trade in 2003, and also played for Phoenix and Calgary later in his career.

While Nolan's teams never had great playoff success, he won gold with Canada at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Nolan finished on a line with Lindros and Ryan Smyth.

With files from The Associated Press