Trust me, I know how overly dramatic the following is going to read. Fortunately, with the final and most underrated connection to the Devils’ glory days having officially called it a - potentially ‘Hall Of Fame’ - career, I just don’t give a shit.
The retirement of Patrik Elias feels like the passing of a lifelong friend that finally conceded his fight with father time. It’s worthy of just as much relief as it is mourning. He may have gone relatively silent into the night when he potted a meaningless goal in the dying seconds of the otherwise unimportant game, but it really was the most fulfilling finale possible. I think I speak for a majority of Devils’ fans when I say that no one was ready to pull the plug on the potential return of New Jersey’s all-time leading scorer, but - ultimately - he probably laid his skates to rest with the perfect timing you'd expect from the guy whose no-look, backhand pass initially made him a Stanley Cup champion. I have very little doubt that Patrik Elias could still contribute to a lineup that is - to put nicely - void of his skill set, but the risk of him becoming an annual, late season novelty/storyline as opposed to the consummate teammate he’s always been just never seemed like it would have been worth it.
Simply put? As it pertains to the legacy of a player that was instrumental in making the only franchise that he’s ever known as proud and successful as it is, there was nothing good that was to come over the next year. That visual of him embracing teammates that were watching cartoons while he was raising banners and putting the down payment on his eventual home in the ‘Prudential Center’ rafters provided the picturesque farewell that fans of any aging player on an incompetent team would kill for. This was the right time for him to go out, no matter how selfishly we wanted him to continue battling the rigors of age, injury, and fleeting interest in honor of nothing more than nostalgia.
Of course I am sad that Patrik Elias’ career is over, but I truly couldn’t be happier that it happened. There’s no amount of fan appreciation that can fully repay the soft spoken scorer of an oft-defensive minded team for his decades of selfless service in creating a wealth of unforgettable memories, but I’ll be damned if our best attempt at reimbursement doesn’t feel like a long time coming. That final skate is gonna touch on all the feels, and when it's over it will inevitably give #3, #4, #27 and #30 the offense they've been desperately looking to add to what will be one of the most formidable 5-somes in NHL history.
Thank you, Patty. For all this, and so, so, so much more...