Matt Carkner is walking away from hockey at 35 years old, he announced today. The veteran grinder, who last played an NHL game in 2014, announced his retirement with a Facebook post thanking his friends, family, fans, and past teams. While he may be done as a player, his hockey career is not over. Carkner added that he will has been named an assistant coach by the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the team he spent the past two seasons with.
Carkner was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1999 NHL Draft, taken 58th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. He made his NHL debut with the San Jose Sharks in 2005, but played the bulk of his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators from 2008 to 2012. Carkner became known for his physical play and aggressive style during this time, with 190 penalty minutes in the ’09-’10 season and then 136 penalty minutes in only 50 games during the ’10-’11 season. Carkner played his final two NHL seasons with the New York Islanders, where he was again a physical presence, but also as a strong locker room leader. The past two seasons, he has provided that same veteran knowledge and guidance to the young players on the Islanders’ affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Although Carkner may not necessarily be remembered for his hockey skill (21 points in 161 career games) at the NHL level, his presence on the ice and in the locker room made him a memorable player, and he will continue to have an impact on the game of hockey, as he begins a promising coaching career.