Vermette announces retirement after 14 NHL seasons

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Antoine Vermette, a center who played 14 seasons in the NHL and helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup title, announced his retirement Thursday at the age of 36.

FILE PHOTO: Phoenix Coyotes’ Antoine Vermette celebrates a late goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Edmonton April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber

“As a child, I dreamed of having a chance to play in the best league in the world of my favorite sport. … What a privilege! I am immensely grateful for all these incredible years punctuated by memorable moments that I will cherish forever,” Vermette said in a statement sent through the NHL Players’ Association. “For me, hockey has been an outstanding vehicle for teaching the right values such as perseverance, discipline and respect. … It was a privilege sharing my daily life with teammates, to forging friendships that will endure well beyond the victories and defeats.”

After playing for the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, Vermette didn’t sign with a team after becoming a free agent last summer. His last NHL team was the Ducks in 2017-18, when he led the league in faceoff percentage.

On Thursday, the NHLPA tweeted, “Congratulations and all the best to Antoine Vermette, who today announces his retirement after a fantastic NHL career that spanned 14 seasons.”

Vermette played for the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks in 2014-15 after being picked up at the trade deadline. He scored three game-winning goals among his seven points that postseason as the Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.

In 1,046 regular-season games, Vermette collected 228 goals and 287 assists for 515 points.

The NHLPA also wrote: “He earned a reputation as a durable, two-way forward whose reliability in the faceoff circle (56.6 percent faceoff win percentage) resulted in the 14th-most faceoff wins recorded (8,948) in NHL history.”

His faceoff percentage of .566 ranks ninth all-time, since the NHL started keeping the statistic in 1997-98.

Born in St. Agapit, Quebec, Vermette was selected 55th overall by the Senators in the second round of the 2000 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut with them on Oct. 9, 2003.

—Field Level Media