Add another Chicago Blackhawks living legend to the list of players hanging up the skates this year. Corey Crawford, Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw, and now Niklas Hjalmarsson.
According to Arizona Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan, the 34-year-old Hjalmarsson is calling it a career after 14 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes.
Per source, Coyotes UFA D Niklas Hjalmarsson is retiring. I don't expect a formal announcement or statement from Nik. Those who have covered him or known him know that is not his style.
He was an integral part of 3 Stanley Cups in Chicago and the consummate pro on/off the ice. pic.twitter.com/b3GUVwGWa9
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) July 25, 2021
Hjalmarsson, a former fourth-round pick by the Blackhawks in the 2005 NHL Draft, was a key member of Chicago’s defensive group for his entire career in Chicago. Part of all three “One Goal” era Stanley Cup Championship teams for the Blackhawks, Hjalmarsson was never an offensive-spark but his work defensively was virtually unmatched during his career.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, reportedly retiring from hockey, was the best defensive defenceman of the analytics era and should be remembered as one of the best stay-at-home blueliners of all time. #Yotes #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/2eFuSIlGqx
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 25, 2021
He skated in 821 NHL games in his career, 623 with the Blackhawks. He also played in 137 career Stanley Cup playoff games, 128 coming with the Blackhawks. Since the 2009-10 season, Hjalmarsson ranks sixth in the league with 1,575 blocked shots and is fourth in the league in blocked shots per 60 minutes at a 71.04 marker. Putting his body on the line and blocking shots was truly his calling card and legacy in the NHL and is what made him a fan favorite wherever he played.
If you want to look back at some of his best moments in his time in Chicago, and probably cry, here’s the video the Blackhawks played for Hjalmarsson on his return to the United Center when he was with the Arizona Coyotes.
Like Morgan said in his announcement of Hjalmarrson’s decision to retire, there likely will not be a formal announcement from the player himself, but that was never his style anyway. I fully believe the Blackhawks will honor all the players that have retired recently with the “One More Shift” honor next season. That, or they will do a GIGANTIC honoring of all those players on one night.
Unfortunately for Hjalmarsson’s legacy in Chicago, he will likely not see his number retired with the Blackhawks. As you may have seen, they’ve already given Seth Jones the No. 4 sweater. But it wouldn’t shock me if, alongside Patrick Kane’s No. 88, Jonathan Toews’ No. 19, Brent Seabrook’s No. 7, and Duncan Keith’s No. 2, the Blackhawks wouldn’t raise some sort of banner to honor all seven players (Kane, Toews, Seabrook, Keith, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Hjalmarrson) who were part of the three Stanley Cups during the “One Goal” era of the franchise.
Hjalmarsson was a warrior on the ice, and by all accounts, one of the nicest players off the ice. He’ll forever be remembered fondly for his time in Chicago, and I’m sure the Coyotes fanbase will miss him as well.
Hell of a career.
We want to wish him nothing but the best and a happy retirement!