Earlier today we discussed the likelihood that former Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy would retire given the lack of NHL opportunities that have come his way. Now Adam Vingan of The Tennessean brings us the story of another veteran NHL forward currently contemplating hanging up his skates.
Eric Nystrom, a veteran of 10 NHL seasons, was in camp with St. Louis on a professional tryout agreement but failed to make their final roster and has presumably not received any other offers to his liking. He played the previous three seasons with Nashville but was bought out of the final year of his four-year contract by the Predators on June 29th.
Calgary’s first round pick in the 2002 draft, Nystrom has known for a while the end was drawing near:
“I had been preparing for that the past year or so. It comes quick. After I got released from the (tryout), I just didn’t know really where to go or what to do.”
As Nystrom suggests, it’s not necessarily recognizing when it’s time to leave the game that’s the problem; it’s deciding what to do with your life afterward. Nystrom’s former coach at the University of Michigan, Red Berenson, knows many players find it difficult to transition to a life away from hockey:
“Hockey, it might be in their future, and it might be long-term, but it might be short-term. But nevertheless, there’s life after hockey, and what you want to do about it is the difficult thing.”
Nystrom does have one advantage many NHLers don’t, as Vingan notes. Bobby Nystrom, Eric’s father, appeared in 900 regular season games for the New York Islanders during a career spanning 14 seasons and was part of four Stanley Cup winning teams. Since retiring in 1986, Bobby has moved into the insurance business and should be able to help guide his son into a post-playing career.
It’s always possible a team experiences an injury to a regular contributor and delves into the free agent market looking for experienced depth. At that point Nystrom might be among the more appealing options available. While he never quite lived up to his draft standing, Nystrom has served as a versatile, checking-line winger for a decade at the NHL level and could provide the same to any number of teams as the season wears on.
If this is indeed the end, Nystrom – Eric, that is – will finish his NHL career with 75 goals and 123 points in 593 games across 10 seasons. In addition to appearing with Nashville and Calgary, Nystrom suited up for San Jose and Dallas during his career.