Former Sabres captain Brian Gionta announced his retirement

Gionta will have a small role in helping to develop young players

Paul Hamilton
September 24, 2018 - 2:02 pm

Photo: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - After 1,026 NHL games, Brian Gionta is calling it quits. The former Sabre announced his retirement on Monday at the arena. Gionta can’t believe what things turned in to for the kid from Rochester, New York, “I went into it hoping I could play one NHL game and then from there it was play as long as you could and as long as you were having fun and your body would hold up, I would’ve never have thought that it lasted as long as it did, but I’m supper appreciative of the people that supported me and gave me a chance.”

Gionta went on to say, “I’ve been very fortunate to have lasted a long time and made a career of this and I would’ve never had thought that would’ve happened, and I’m very fortunate that my parents put that time and effort in to invest in me.”

Gionta played 230 games in Buffalo and was their captain throughout. He scored 40 goals and 63 assists for 103 points. He is going to help out with the development of young players, but his main focus is going to be on his family, “We’re from here and we live in Rochester in the summers and you hope to build the correct relationships, so maybe further down the road, you can still be part of the game and the Sabres have been great in allowing me to feel out this first stage of retirement, but also being a part of things.”

Gionta gave no thought to playing this season and said, “I’m at peace and feel great about the decision I’ve made.”

Gionta broke in with New Jersey which is where he won his only Stanley Cup. He had his best season with the Devils netting 48 goals 89 points. The Devils are the team that took a chance on a small kid when it was a big man’s game. Gionta said after winning the Cup, he thought there’d be more, “It was a dream come true and not that you take it for granted, but it happened so early on that you wish you had cherished it a little more for what it was and how special it was because it’s hard to do and now looking back and the chances we’ve had, conference finals and good teams that you’ve had that fell short, you realize how special it was to be able to win it.”

In addition to the Sabres and New Jersey, Gionta played with Montreal and Boston. In 16 NHL seasons, the undersized forward netted 291 goals and 304 assists for 595 points.

Gionta not only went from New Jersey to Montreal, but he was named captain of a team that is located in the hockey mecca of Canada. Gionta was humbled by the whole experience, “The best things come when they’re not planned and going to Montreal was one of the biggest blessings for myself and my family, to be out of your comfort zone, going to a French speaking area where your kids are going to a different school and then to have them have the confidence in me that I was an English speaking guy and could be the captain of that team it was pretty special that they had that confidence in me and I loved my time there.”

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