It’s been more than 18 months since Zack Smith last laced up his skates for an NHL game, and it turns out that match against the Vancouver Canucks on February 12, 2020 will be his last. The veteran forward announced his retirement today, speaking with Ian Mendes of The Athletic.
Smith, who played parts of 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators before spending the 2019-20 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, admitted that though he obviously loves the game, his “heart wasn’t into it the last couple of years.” He points to the moment in 2018 when he was placed on waivers by the Senators as one when he learned the “business side” of the game.
In 2020-21, Smith was still under contract with the Blackhawks but did not play after having back surgery the season prior. He is still dealing with pain and is now focused on his post-hockey health and life.
It was quite a career for the third-round pick, racking up 204 points in 662 regular season games. His most impressive season came in 2015-16 when he scored 25 goals and even received votes for the Selke Trophy as one of the league’s best defensive forwards. Though he did not ever lift the Stanley Cup, he did suit up 45 times in the postseason.