COVID-19 claims its first NHL career as Niskanen officially retires

The veteran Dman cites uncertainty around the pandemic as his reason for hanging up the skates.

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In case you missed the news earlier today, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen surprised the entire hockey world by unceremoniously retiring at just 33 years of age and with $5.75 million still owed to him in salary. The reason: COVID-19.

“He told me he didn’t want to go through it again,” Niskanen's agent Neil Sheehy said to The Hockey News' Ken Campbell. “He mentioned COVID to me. I don’t think he wanted to get ready for another season by Nov. 15 and then have to go into isolation and be away from his two kids and his wife. I think he always finish his contract and then stop, but I think because of COVID and his experience of the bubble, he decided now is the time. He basically said, ‘With COVID, I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to prepare anymore.’ ”

If what Sheehy says is true, then this has to be the first case of an NHLer retiring due to COVID-19 concerns. And you know what? Good for him. The fact of the matter is that Niskanen has nothing left to prove to anyone. He's a Stanley Cup champion, he's earned over $40 million in his NHL career and he's a father of two young children. I sure as Hell don't blame the guy for walking away from the game to be with his family, especially so given all the uncertainty in the world today.

“He just said, ‘You know what? We’re going back home to northern Minnesota and I don’t need to do this anymore,’ ” Sheehy said. “I was surprised, but I said to Nisky, ‘You’ve earned the right to do whatever you want to do,’ and I never tried to talk him out of it. He has earned the right to do whatever he wants. He’s going to live in northern Minnesota and he’s going to hunt and fish and do all the things he loved doing as a kid that he hasn’t had a chance to do since he started playing pro hockey.”

Hell yeah... that honestly sounds pretty damn perfect to me. All the best to Niskanen and his family in the rest of their post-NHL days.

For the full article from Campbell, click below: