It was hinted at just last week that veteran forward Kyle Brodziak of the Edmonton Oilers may not pass his physical to begin the season. Brodziak has been dealing with a lingering back injury for some time, one that was re-aggravated late last season, and had been unable to work out this off-season. At the time, it was discussed in the context of cap savings, as the Oilers could place Brodziak on Long-Term Injured Reserve to begin the year. However, things are much more serious than they seemed.
Speaking with Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic, Brodziak revealed that his back injury has become too difficult to work through: “I know that I won’t play hockey anymore.” Brodziak did indeed fail his physical with the Oilers yesterday and has taken that as a sign that his time has come. At 35 years old, Brodziak will hang up his skated, but not by choice. The experienced forward still had one year remaining on his current contract and enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career just two years ago in 2017-18. However, the pain and effort needed to stay in game shape at the NHL level has simply become too much.
Brodziak of course doesn’t owe the game anything. A seventh-round pick in 2003. Brodziak exceeded all expectation by going on to play in 917 career NHL games. He recorded five 30+ point seasons, including a career-high 44 points with the Minnesota Wild in 2011-12. But Brodziak will be remembered more for his defense and two-way intelligence than his offense, as he became one of the more dependable bottom-six forwards in the league late in his career. Brodziak was also an iron man of sorts, missing less than 50 games over 12 full NHL seasons. As reliable as they come, Brodziak still managed to make it on the ice every night and make an impact even as he fought through this nagging injury in recent years.
Nugent-Bowman writes that Brodziak will take some time to think about his next step in life. A native of Alberta, not far from Edmonton, he was proud to finish his career with the Oilers and it would not be a stretch to think he could find a role with the team. Any team would be lucky to have the wisdom and work ethic of Brodziak around their team, so if he wants to further his career in hockey, he won’t be searching for next step for very long.