Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sillinger's Long Journey Comes to an End

On a conference call with nearly two dozen hockey writers today, Mike Sillinger seemed at peace with his injury-induced retirement from the NHL. His heart may still have several years of hockey juice left, but his body has reached the end of its functional NHL life.

Sillinger, speaking from his home in Regina, Sask., revealed that microfracture resurfacing surgery aimed at sparing the remaining cartilage in his hip failed to do so. Down to bone on bone, he now sports a titanium joint and bone in his hip.

Sillinger said that he knew going in that the surgery doesn't always work. The hip replacement does not preclude him from attempting a comeback, but Sillinger sees no need to play the hero and risk his future health even though he currently feels wonderful.

When asked to recall his most lasting memories from his time on Long Island, Sillinger said, "My time on Long Island was fantastic." He then pointed to making the playoffs his first year and his 1,000th NHL game as standout memories.

Of the latter, Sillinger said, "The organization was first class. It was a day and a game I'll never forget."

Sillinger also spoke of what it was like to join the Islanders, noting that he didn't know what to expect because he had spent most of his career in the Western Conference. Talking to friends like Trevor Linden and Adrian Aucoin encouraged him. They, and others, all said that he was going to a great place with a good bunch of guys.

Garth Snow added that "Mike is good at many different things as a hockey player." The Islanders GM said that the team would attempt to fill the holes left behind with the group it currently has, but Sillinger's are big shoes to fill. Snow continued, "We were very fortunate that Mike was part of our organization. And there will be a lasting effect, especially the impression he's made on our younger players.

As for his future, Sillinger said, "I'm going to take a step back and enjoy the next few months. I'm very fortunate I don't have to rush into anything." He did admit to being a little jealous of buddy Doug Weight, who signed back on with the Islanders and will have the opportunity to play with what Sillinger called "a great young team."

Due to his travels, Sillinger could carelessly be referred to as a journeyman player. But his journey was one that will be highly respected by all who came into contact with him during a distinguished career.

Additional quotes from Mike Sillinger on the day he announced his retirement:

"I think my wife dreaded the trade deadline more than I did."

"In this game, when you feel sorry for yourself, someone is going to take your job pretty quick."

"I'm so thankful to every organization I played for."

For more quotes from Sillinger and Snow, check out Lighthouse Hockey.