Peter Bondra calls it a career

Peter Bondra, a member of the NHL's 500-goal club, retired from professional hockey Monday to become the general manager of Slovakia's national team.

Peter Bondra, a member of the NHL's 500-goal club, retired from professional hockey Monday to become the general manager of Slovakia's national team.

The 39-year-old has a contract to oversee the Slovaks through 2008, when the world championships will be played in Halifax and Quebec City.

"I kept it a secret for a long time. They will know overseas only after this press conference," Bondra said, according to a report from the Slovak national hockey association. "I hope I can help Slovakia win another medal at the world championship."

Bondra, who was born in the former Soviet Union but grew up in what was then Czechoslovakia, scored the decisive goal in the 2002 world championship final, which the Slovaks won 4-3 over Russia.

The slick winger was one of the NHL's most feared snipers during the mid-1990s, averaging 50 goals per season from 1995-96 through 1997-98 with the Washington Capitals, for whom he played parts of 13 seasons.

Bondra scored 503 goals and added 389 assists in 1,081 NHL games with Washington, the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Last season, Bondra had five goals and 14 points in 37 games for the Blackhawks, with whom he became the 37th player to reach 500 NHL goals. The Penguins' Mark Recchi and the Stars' Mike Modano joined the club later in the season.

With files from the Canadian Press