Hurricanes’ Wesley retires

Published 3:04 am Friday, June 6, 2008

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley is retiring after 20 NHL seasons.
The Hurricanes said Thursday that Wesley would move into the front office as the team’s director of development for defensemen, and the team will retire his No. 2 jersey sometime next season.
The 39-year-old veteran of 20 NHL seasons is the only player to have played each of the Hurricanes’ 10 seasons since the team once known as the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina.
Carolina’s alternate captain ranks sixth in NHL history among defensemen with 1,457 games played, and he is second to team executive Ron Francis with 903 games in 13 seasons with the franchise. He will join Francis as the only Hurricanes with their numbers retired.
The decision wasn’t entirely unexpected — Wesley flirted with retirement after each of the last few seasons before ultimately reaching a new one-year contract seemingly each summer. The single-season deal he signed last July paid him $1.4 million.
He had one goal, seven assists and a team-leading 110 blocked shots in 78 games during his final season, with his last goal coming Nov. 23. It was worth remembering — his quick wrist shot capped a three-goal third-period rally that carried Carolina past Tampa Bay 4-3.
Shortly after the Hurricanes’ season ended in April — they missed the playoffs for a second straight year after winning the Stanley Cup in 2006 — general manager Jim Rutherford said he would give Wesley ‘‘as long as he wants to make his decision’’ because of his long tenure with the team.
The clear highlight of his career came two years ago when he won the Stanley Cup for the only time in four trips to the finals, finally hoisting the 116-year-old trophy after his 1,480th career game — the third-highest total before winning the Cup in league history. Famously, he spent his day with the Cup at Camp Lejeune — the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast — to visit with Marines wounded in combat.
The Boston Bruins made Wesley the third overall pick in the 1987 draft, and traded him to the Whalers before the 1994-95 season for three first-round draft picks — with one of them turning out to be his eventual teammate in Carolina, forward Sergei Samsonov. The Hurricanes dealt him to Toronto late in the 2002-03 season for a draft pick, then reacquired him four months later as a free agent.