I'm going to try my best to avoid giving Patrik Elias the most thorough of ball-washings here. That's mostly just due to the fact that he's a clean-cut European so he likely does a good enough job of that himself, However, it's also because the pessimist could argue that there's an ever-so-slight amount of self-servitude in him agreeing to not play another game and going out "on top" with a goal that somehow made last season's meaningless closer seem special.
Still, even the most distrusting of Devils' fans would have to admit that Patrik Elias' inclination to prioritize the best interests of rookies that he has yet to play with over a final appearance in an NHL game is actually the perfect farewell from what's soon to be a forever memorialized career. If there's anything that keeps New Jersey's all time leading scorer out of the 'Hall Of Fame' - and there absolutely shouldn't be - it will be his proclivity to sacrifice himself for the good of the logo on the front of the jersey that he flawlessly represented more proudly than the name on his own back.
For the longest time Patrik Elias compromised his tantalizing offensive potential by sticking to the oft-infuriating defensive scheme that helped to make him Stanley Cup Champion multiple times over. Invoking that same type of selflessness in closing out a criminally underrated - and somehow understated - career with a casual, celebratory skate instead of a game played at the highest level all because he doesn't want to cost one youngster the experience provided by 10-15 minutes of NHL ice time? That may be the most symbolically "on-brand" decision that's ever been made.
Patrik Elias isn't merely beloved because never took the opportunity to venture elsewhere throughout his professional journey. It's also that during his two decades as a member of the New Jersey Devils he never failed to do right by those he shared a locker room with. Turns out that not even nearly a full year out of said locker room could change that team-first mindset. Let's hope Patty laps it up in more ways than one come Saturday, because - as much as it makes him uncomfortable - he deserves to soak in all the attention that a player of his star power miraculously managed to avoid for all these years.
P.S. Absolutely love that the schedule worked out in such a way that the preeminent 'Flyer Killer' was able to drop the ceremonial puck against the franchise that he's given more fits than their forever unresolved goaltending situation...