October 20, 2018 / 5:12 AM / a month ago

NHL veteran Tootoo retires after 13 seasons

After 13 seasons in the NHL, forward Jordin Tootoo has decided to retire, making the announcement on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Apr 2, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Jordin Tootoo (22) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the third period against the Boston Bruins at United Center. Boston won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports - 9987556

After sitting out the 2017-18 season on long-term injured reserve with an upper-body injury, he did not play after the Chicago Blackhawks assigned him to Rockford of the American Hockey League on Nov. 30.

The 35-year-old is just pleased he was able to play as long as he did professionally in a rugged sport.

“I look back and I reflect on my hockey career and what it’s given me opportunity-wise away from the game,” Tootoo said earlier in October. “Personally, I didn’t think it would go this far. But I’m grateful for everything that’s put in front of me.

“It’s been a tremendous ride.”

In an NHL career that began with the Nashville Predators in 2003 and lasted 723 games, Tootoo compiled 161 points (65 goals, 96 assists) and 1,010 penalty minutes. Following eight seasons in Nashville, he also played with the Detroit Red Wings (2012-14), New Jersey Devils (2014-16) and Blackhawks (2016-17).

His professional career began with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League.

Looking this season for a chance to play in Europe, Tootoo had been working out with the WHL team in Kelowna, British Columbia. Born in Churchill, Manitoba, he grew up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, an Inuit hamlet with a population of fewer than 3,000.

“After 220 regular season games with the Wheat Kings and 723 games in the NHL I have decided to retire from the NHL to focus on giving back to the Indigenous community,” Tootoo wrote on Twitter.

Drafted 98th overall by the Predators in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, he became the first Inuk to play in the NHL.

“Still to this day, it was kind of an unbelievable experience and I’m hoping that I can pave the way for future indigenous, aboriginal kids coming up,” Tootoo said.

—Field Level Media

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