Nerve damage forces Dan Blackburn to retire

Updated: September 25, 2005, 8:50 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn retired Sunday, citing permanent nerve damage in his left shoulder from an injury sustained in 2003.

The Rangers' first-round pick in the 2001 NHL entry draft, Blackburn hurt his shoulder before the start of training camp in 2003 and missed the entire 2003-04 season. His condition appeared to improve after exploratory nerve surgery was performed in March 2004, but never completely cleared up.

The 22-year-old Blackburn had a 20-32-4 record and 3.22 goals-against average in 63 appearances with the Rangers. He had a .894 save percentage.

"Danny has worked extremely hard over the last two seasons to do everything in his power to get his shoulder to a point where he would be able to play," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said. "We are all very disappointed for him, knowing the effort he put in and the tremendous future he had. He is an exceptional athlete and a courageous young man and we wish him well."

After surgery and an extensive rehabilitation, Blackburn joined the Victoria Salmon Kings of the East Coast Hockey League in February 2005. He had a 3-9-0 record and 3.54 goals-against average in 12 games.

He participated in the Rangers training camp this year, but strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee on Sept. 15.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press