Source: Sharks captain Blake to retire

Updated: June 14, 2010, 6:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

San Jose Sharks captain Rob Blake will announce his retirement Friday, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.

The Sharks have announced a news conference for Friday regarding Blake's future.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area first reported Blake's retirement plans.

Blake
Blake

The 40-year-old defenseman hinted as much after his team was knocked out by Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals.

"I know what I'm going to do but I'll take some time here and decide," Blake said May 23 after Game 4 in Chicago. "I'll let this sink in for a while. No rush to make a decision."

His departure is the first of what could be many key changes on the Sharks before next season. Leading goal scorer Patrick Marleau and starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov are both eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Blake was one of the league's best defensemen over his career with Los Angeles, Colorado and San Jose, making seven All-Star teams and winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman for Los Angeles in 1998.

He is 10th on the career list with 240 goals as a defenseman, went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993 with Los Angeles, won it all in 2001 with Colorado, won a gold medal for Canada the following year and helped the Sharks post the best regular-season record in the Western Conference in each of his two seasons in San Jose.

But he was unable to lead the Sharks to a long-awaited trip to the Stanley Cup finals. San Jose was eliminated in the first round by Anaheim in Blake's first season in 2009. San Jose coach Todd McLellan made Blake the captain this year, and Blake helped lead the team to the No. 1 seed and a trip to the conference finals.

Teaming with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Blake showed he had plenty left at the end of his career. He had seven goals and 23 assists in 70 games and was one of the team's most reliable defenders. He added a goal and an assist in the playoffs.

Blake, who played college hockey at Bowling Green, was a fourth-round pick by Los Angeles in 1988. He came up late in the 1989-90 season after finishing his college career. His first goal as an NHL player came in the playoffs against Calgary.

Blake was a key cog for a Kings team led by Wayne Gretzky. He had two goals and two assists to help the Kings eliminate Toronto in the Western Conference finals in 1993 to go to the Stanley Cup round. Los Angeles lost that finals series in five games to Montreal.

Blake replaced Gretzky as captain in Los Angeles in 1996 and was traded in February 2001 to Colorado. He had six goals and 13 assists that postseason for the Avalanche, leading them past New Jersey in seven games for the Stanley Cup championship.

He returned to Los Angeles in 2006 as a free agent and then left to join the Sharks in 2008.

Blake finished his career with 537 assists and 777 points. His 136 power-play goals are the third most by an NHL defenseman, trailing only Hockey Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (173) and Al MacInnis (166).

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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