Lemieux ends comeback, retires

Updated: July 8, 2009, 10:44 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Claude Lemieux's National Hockey League comeback is over.

Lemieux
Lemieux

Lemieux, 44, who returned to the NHL with the San Jose Sharks last season after five years away from hockey, announced his retirement on Wednesday.

He leaves the game with 379 goals, 407 assists, 1,777 penalty minutes and four Stanley Cup titles. He is one of only eight NHL players to win Stanley Cups with three teams -- the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche.

He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with the Devils in 1995.

"I want to thank my former teammates from my entire career for all of their support," Lemieux said in a prepared statement. "I feel very fortunate that I was able to have a career like I had. There have been many great NHL players who did not get the opportunities to win that I had. I played for a long time but it went by so very fast." Although Lemieux was best known for his postseason play, he said his return to the ice last season ranks with the titles and honors he won during 1,215 NHL games in a 21-year career. He had one assist in 18 games last season.

"Many people will think the main highlights of my career will be the Stanley Cups, the Conn Smythe Trophy and Canada Cup," Lemieux said. "But to me and my family, coming back and playing in my first game in San Jose will be remembered as one the great highlights of my career."

"Claude had a tremendous career and his accomplishments speak for themselves," Sharks vice president and general manager Doug Wilson said. "His love of the game was truly evident this year and completing a successful return to the NHL revealed his true passion for hockey. The players in our organization in San Jose and Worcester will reap the benefits of having him as a teammate for years to come."

Lemieux, a native of Quebec, became a United States citizen last month.

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