Peca, 2002 gold medalist, retires
Michael Peca, a two-time Selke Trophy winner, announced his official NHL retirement Tuesday, ending a 13-season NHL career that was highlighted by an Olympic gold medal in 2002.
"I'm not sad by any means," Peca said. "Several months ago, I came to the decision I wasn't going to play anymore. Today's really just a day that I made a public statement. For me, it was so every time I run into old friends, they quit asking me if I'm done or not.
LeBrun: Peca A Two-Way Force
Michael Peca was one of the best two-way centers in the NHL during his prime, writes Pierre LeBrun. Blog
"Now they've got the answer," he said. "It's kind of like a mass e-mail."
Peca, who turns 36 in March, had 465 points (176 goals, 289 assists) and 798 penalty minutes in 864 regular-season games with Vancouver, Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Edmonton, Toronto and Columbus. His feisty, two-way game was underlined by winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward in 1997 and 2002.
"The game has given me everything I've got," Peca told ESPN.com Tuesday from his home in Buffalo. "I'll be forever thankful for the time I spent in the game. I don't think a day will go by where I won't spend at least a few moments of the day reminiscing about the time I had."
Peca went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999 with the Sabres and 2006 with the Oilers, but fell just short of the ultimate prize both times.
"As time goes by you think about the things you would have wanted to be part of and winning a Stanley Cup was certainly one of them," Peca said. "But '99 with Buffalo and 2006 with Edmonton, I'll be hanging on to those moments for sure."
But in February 2002, the Toronto native achieved Olympic glory playing alongside boyhood hero Steve Yzerman, as Canada snapped a 50-year gold medal drought in Salt Lake City.
"Even though the Olympic gold medal was the one where I was fortunate enough to be successful, the Stanley Cup runs were actually more fruitful for me from the emotional standpoint," Peca said. "This is guys that have slugged it out for five, six months and now we've got to go another two months together to try and accomplish the greatest prize."
Peca was a plus-66 for his career, a statistic reflective of his two-way play.
"It's just a case where ever since I was a young kid I wanted to help my team in any way possible," said Peca. "As I got older, I had the mindset that I wanted the coach to tap me on the shoulder regardless of what the situation is; whether it's to go out there to preserve a lead or go out there and help break a tie game. So maybe that statistic in a small way is reflective of how I approached the game."
Peca received some interest from Western Conference teams, but was reluctant to move far from his family's home near Buffalo.
An opportunity in the East fell through just before the start of training camp.
"I wasn't going to uproot my family again," Peca said. "I was very selective, maybe so selective to the point that realistically I knew that there probably wouldn't be an opportunity."
Peca lives in Buffalo with his wife and two children. He currently coaches his son's youth hockey team.
"It's been real enjoyable to spend this much time with my family," said Peca. "We live in Buffalo, it's our home, it's where our friends are. The best friends I have in the world are all guys I played with in Buffalo. It's a great place to live."
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- CEO of Maple Leafs, Raptors to step down
- Veteran G Giguere retires after 16 seasons
- Thornton, Marleau stripped of leadership roles
- Islanders reach deal to transfer ownership