Ron Francis, a 23-year veteran with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs announced his retirement Wednesday from the National Hockey League.
Francis, 42, was a 4-time NHL All-Star (1983, 1985, 1990, 1996). He appeared in a total of 1,731 NHL games, which ranks him third on the all-time list. His stellar career also included 549 goals (19th), 1,249 assists (2nd), and 1,798 total points (4th).
"As a kid growing up in the little city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, I dreamed of one day playing in the NHL, but never did I expect it to be as much fun as it turned out to be," Francis said in a press release. "I thank everyone who I came in contact with during this long ride for their contributions to making it fun."
Francis was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in 1981 (1st choice, 4th overall). Twenty times, Francis would score at least 20 goals in an NHL season, a feat surpassed only by hockey legend Gordie Howe.
"To all the players I had the chance to play with over my career, I thank you for all your hard work and dedication, your friendship, and for making this entire experience one I thoroughly enjoyed," Francis added. "To all my opponents over the years, I always had the utmost respect for your talents and how you competed every night. To the equipment guys and medical staffs, I thank you for all the hours you quietly put in to make sure that the players have the best opportunity to do their jobs well."
Francis was known for playing the game with class, as his three Lady Byng Memorial Trophies (1995, 1998, 2002) will attest, and his Frank J. Selke Trophy (1995) solidified his reputation as an excellent all-around player. His Hall-of-Fame career was highlighted by consecutive Stanley Cup victories in 1990-91 and 1991-92 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"My thanks to all the owners, general managers, and coaches I have had the pleasure of playing for. To all the fans of the NHL, I have enjoyed playing in front of you, whether you were cheering for me or against me, I appreciate the fact that you were willing to spend your hard earned dollars to come and see the games," Francis said. "To my family and friends, I could not think of a greater group of people that I would have wanted to share these years with. It has been truly a fun, memorable experience, and I look forward to having the opportunity to spend more time with you all over the coming years."
-thanks to www.tsn.ca