Bryce Salvador Has Retired From The NHL, And His Piece On 'The Players' Tribune' Is An Absolute Must Read
The Players Tribune- I'm not going to post snippets of the article here, because it wouldn't even do the whole piece justice. If you have a brain, or like detailed looks into the mindset of athletes, then give it a read. It's undoubtedly worth your time. Read it. No, seriously. Do it now.
Well, that was sobering, huh? For Devils fans it has been very easy to make jokes at the expense of Bryce Salvador over the years. That's actually a testament to him. Had we known all the things that were going on behind closed doors then his career wouldn't have been a laughing matter. Alas, he wanted to get better for his teammates and his family, and he never let his health issues become a distraction to the franchise that employed him.
I think the biggest issue that Devils' fans had with Bryce Salvador was the fact that he received a three year contract, as somewhat of a sweetheart deal, after becoming an offensive force en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. A lot of people forget how important he was to the success of that team. While that playoff run alone shouldn't have been enough to give a 36 year old stay-at-home defenseman a lucrative three year contract, what he overcame in the process was worthy of an overpayment. The fact that Salvador, without question one of the least skilled players on the team, became the captain was a contested move amongst many Devils fans. However, reading what he went through just to get on the ice for the New Jersey Devils isn't just the stuff that leaders are made of, but it's the stuff that captains are made of. The guy that will play through a concussion? The guy that laces them up and gives it his all despite his body telling him not to? The guy that doesn't make a peep while sitting out the entirety of a year? The guy that turns a deaf ear to his critics? That's the kind of man you want in your locker room. That's the kind of man you want on your hockey team.
Many times we forget that the players that we watch on a nightly basis, no matter how much they get paid, are still human beings too. Human beings whose bodies have to endure more physically than any average person could possibly imagine. Human beings who have families that they put themselves at risk to provide for. I am not without fault here. I've criticized Salvador as much the next guy. However, it's so easy to forget that he came to New Jersey in exchange for Cam Jansson, an obsolete player in the modern NHL, and ended up helping his team play on the NHL's biggest stage. That type of growth and perseverance is to celebrated, not chastised. In a way it sucks that this is how Bryce's career has to end. Before succumbing to injury he was having a fairly miserable start to the season. I guess that's what happens when you are a 39 year old defenseman, with limited physical tools, in a young man's league. However, don't remember Bryce Salvador for his turnovers, or his stupid penalties, or these last few seasons in which Wayne Gretzky himself couldn't have dug the Devils out of mediocrity. Remember him as the player that defied not only his talent level, but also seemingly insurmountable damage to his vestibular system, to become the steadying force on the backend of a team that was two wins away from a Stanley Cup Championship. I'll never forget the playoff run in 2012, and I'll never forget that Bryce Salvador was one of the main reasons that it happened. If this story did anything, it reassured me that Bryce Salvador wasn't just a legitimate candidate to be captain, he was the only candidate. I hope he calls the New Jersey Devils organization home as long as he so chooses. He's earned it.