One of the most recognizable names in the sport of hockey and a true ambassador of the game is officially hanging up his skates.
On Saturday long time National Hockey League forward Jordin Tootoo officially announced his retirement after nearly a decade and a half in the NHL via a video that he published on social media to commemorate the occasion. The news came as little surprise given the fact that Tootoo last played in the National Hockey League 2 seasons ago as a member of the 2016 - 2017 Chicago Blackhawks roster, but despite that it marks the end of a tremendous and exciting career.
Tootoo was a controversial figure almost from the very moment that he entered the league and quickly built a reputation for himself as a player very capable of getting under the skin of his opponents, regardless of who they were. That talent as well as his skills on the ice resulted in him playing in a total of 723 career NHL games as a member of the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and of course the aforementioned Chicago Blackhawks. His stats over that stretch give you a pretty good indication of what type of player he was, the notorious agitator had a total of 65 career goals and 96 career assists for 161 career points but he also added a staggering 1010 penalty minutes as well. That of course works out to well over a penalty minute per game and it tells a large part of his NHL story.
His antics on the ice led him to be suspended by the league on several occasions but a sucker punch delivered to then Dallas Star Stephen Robidas resulted in his most infamous suspension and it may in fact be the most infamous moment of his career. Although it was clearly a cheap shot the one punch knockout seemed to build Tootoo's reputation around the league rather than damage it.
In spite of his antics on the ice however Tootoo was a highly respected athlete off the ice due to his high level of commitment to the community from which he came. Tootoo was born in Manitoba, Canada but was raised in Nunavut in the Inuk community, a community that has had well documented struggles in Canada for several years. Tootoo initially founded "Team Tootoo" to give back to the community that helped him develop his character as a young man and that eventually evolved into the Team Tootoo foundation which continues to carry on it's work to this day. In his retirement announcement Tootoo made it clear that giving back to his community would now become his primary focus as he steps away from the game.
As a result of his efforts in his community Tootoo has inspired countless young men of Inuit descent to use hockey as a way to escape some of the pitfalls that are so common for young men in that community, pitfalls that include common alcohol abuse. Tootoo himself struggled with alcohol abuse but would eventually enter a rehabilitation program with the help of the NHL, once again stetting a great example for the young men in his local community.
You can watch the video announcement of his retirement courtesy of the Brandon Wheat Kings.