It's not official just quite yet but a long time veteran of the National Hockey League is strongly hinting at the fact that he has reached the end of his time in the NHL.
In a recent interview with the National Hockey League's official website former Montreal Canadiens captain and former Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta talked about how the offseason was going for him and addressed whether or not he was preparing himself for another season in the NHL. The question of course stemmed from the fact that this is now the second consecutive offseason in which the 39 year old forward has not been offered an NHL contract, and the second consecutive offseason in which rumors of his retirement have floated around.
At first Gionta appeared to indicate that he was preparing for another kick at the can.
"I've still trained because that's the routine," Gionta said Wednesday from his summer home in Rochester, New York as per NHL.com. "It's what I've done every summer for the last 17 years. I'm still training with the group of guys who are here. At this point, it's basically to hang around them and stay in shape. But I'm prepared [for retirement] unless something very out of the ordinary and significant came through.
Interestingly enough Gionta actually indicated that it wasn't a lack of offers that prevented him from signing a new deal last summer, but rather consideration for his wife and how signing a one year deal could potentially impact their lives.
"Last summer we had some offers on the table and we looked at significant ones. But at this stage of my career, I just didn't feel right moving the kids around, one year here, one year there."
Gionta even believes that he could have had another offer this time around if it weren't for his desire to remain close to his children, although I'm not so certain about how realistic that is. That being said though for the first time he admitted that he was looking at potential options outside of being a professional player in the NHL.
"It all just kind of fell into place for me last year," said Gionta, who played the previous three seasons for the Buffalo Sabres. "Coming into this year, same thing, I probably could have gotten a one-year deal. We went searching for it but at this point it's going to be really tough to move the kids. I haven't ruled it out completely but most likely I'll look at some non-playing hockey options."
Gionta is not ruling out the possibility of a return entirely just yet, but the comments he has made strongly indicate that his time as a player is over. Gionta has been spotted training some of the Sabres' younger prospects as well and that could potentially be where his future in the sport of hockey lies at this time. Gionta says that if this is indeed the end he has no regrets.
"I feel completely content whether I play again or not. I've loved the game and loved being at the top level for a long time. I feel very fortunate that I was able to do that for so long, especially when a lot of people wouldn't have expected me to be here for even a game."
I wish him well in all his future endeavors.