After attempting to battle back from a nerve injury in his shoulder, goaltender Dan Blackburn announced today that he will be retiring from professional hockey. The 22 year old netminder finishes his aborted career with a record of 20-32-4 in 63 NHL appearances, a GAA of 3.22 and Save Percentage of 0.894. Selected 10th overall by the Rangers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Blackburn signed a professional contract in his very first season. One of the youngest goaltenders to ever play in the NHL, Blackburn also became the 4th youngest netminder in league history to record a victory, when he registered a 2-1 win in his home town of Montreal on October 15th.
Initially set up to play a supporting role to veteran Mike Richter, Blackburn ended up finishing the season as starter when Mike Richter took a Chris Tamer slap shot to the side of the helmet and was unable to continue. The young rookie played valiantly, but with the Rangers already on a downward spiral, Blackburn could do little to save the season despite putting in some gallant effort
Blackburn’s sophomore season got off to a rocky start. Scheduled to start in the third game of the year, Blackburn suffered a dislocated finger during the pre-game warm-ups and had to sit the game out. Just a couple of weeks later, Blackburn was thrust into the starting role when veteran Mike Richter suffered another concussion against the Edmonton Oilers. The young goaltender then started the next 18 consecutive games before ultimately being replaced by the newly acquired Mike Dunham. Used sparingly for the remainder of the season, Blackburn seldom had an opportunity to shine, often going two weeks at a time without a game.
As tough as his sophomore season was, it was nothing compared to the 2003-04 preseason. Just a month prior to camp, Blackburn injured his shoulders while lifting waits in off-season training. Initially diagnosed with a nerve injury in his shoulder, Blackburn was told to rest and hope for the best. As months went by it was apparent that his injury was not recovering, ultimately leading to surgery to remove scar tissue in his shoulder. While the surgery helped him regain some movement, nerve damage remained.
In the 2004-05 season, Blackburn attempted to come back using a modified glove to offset the limited vertical mobility he had his in arm. After a brief stint with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL to test the new arrangement, Blackburn left to try and find a spot on the Hartford Wolf Pack to see if he could gauge his progress before time ran out on his insurance claim. With the Wolf Pack goaltenders leading the league, there was little opportunity for Blackburn, who ultimately sat out and returned as a try-out with the Rangers in training camp.
A sprained MCL ultimately forced the decision for Blackburn, who elected to retire and take a reported 6 million dollar pay out, rather than risk it all for an unlikely comeback at the NHL level.
|Height: 6-0||Age: 22|
|Weight: 190||Birthday: May 20, 1983|
|Position: Goaltender||Birthplace: Montreal, PQ – Canada|
|Catches: Left||Drafted: 2001 NHL Entry Draft – New York Rangers – #10 (1st round)|