Bret Hedican will officially announce his retirement today, but with one regret:
“The one thing I really am sad about is that I didn’t retire a Hurricane,” Hedican said Tuesday from his home in California. “I really wanted to. I wish it was possible to sign a one-day contract. I’d pay (general manager) Jimmy (Rutherford) to let me sign for a dollar and put the jersey on again.”
Only 369 of Hedican's 1,000-plus NHL games were with the Hurricanes, but that included some of the finest moments of the defenseman's career -- and some of the franchise's finest moments as well, which is no coincidence.
Winning the Stanley Cup obviously tops the list, but here are a few of Hedican's fondest memories with the Hurricanes.
Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, 2002: "I ate at a restaurant in Carolina and when we got to Toronto I didn't feel good. I ended up with food poisoning, puking all night. I got a couple of bags of IV fluids and ate a bowl of oatmeal and then played 20-some minutes that night and we won to go to the Stanley Cup finals."
At practice during the 2005-06 season: "Halfway through that year, there was a moment in practice over at the RecZone where I had never seen anything so fast and so crisp in all my days of playing the game. I had a smile on my face. Every player was at a level I had never seen before. It was a moment in time where you go, 'Wow, something special is going on here.' To this day, it brings chills to me. The coaches were feeling it, the players were feeling it. (Peter) Laviolette called us in after that practice and told us we looked like a team on a mission to win the Stanley Cup. I remember it like it was yesterday. Playing at that level is what I'll miss. Some nights I just felt like I could skate forever."
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2006: "Three defensemen got hurt and I was playing every other shift. I played 30-something minutes that night and it was one of the best games of my career. It was a pivotal game and I played the best when it mattered the most."