Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, known affectionately as the team's "mutt" who won two Stanley Cup championships in Chicago, said the time has come to prioritize his health as he announced his retirement from hockey at just 29 years old.
Shaw revealed Monday that he will "stop playing the game" due to numerous concussions and a recommendation from doctors.
"There comes a time when every athlete needs to realize when their health is a priority and a future with their family is what is most important," Shaw said in a statement. "That point for me is now. After several concussions, doctors have strongly recommended I stop playing the game that I love. For once in my life, I am going to listen."
Shaw was moved from injured reserve to long-term IR last month following numerous concussions. The team's physician said a concussion on Feb. 9 against the Dallas Stars was the final straw.
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"Though he has recovered, given the potential long-term consequences of repetitive concussions, we have advised him to discontinue his career as a professional hockey player," team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. "The Blackhawks are very supportive of his decision to prioritize his long-term health."
Shaw, who won two Stanley Cups in Chicago, became an integral part of the Blackhawks after being drafted in 2011. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens following the Hawks' 2015 championship, then was traded back to Chicago in 2019.
Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said he admired Shaw's decision for "putting his family and well-being first."
"Andrew will always have a home here in Chicago and we wish him and his family nothing but the best in the next chapter of their lives," Bowman said.
Read Shaw's full statement below:
My first game as a rookie with the Chicago Blackhawks still sticks out in my mind. In my second shift, I had my first fight in the National Hockey League. I followed that up with my first NHL goal in the second period. From that point on, I knew I had a chance to be this team’s underdog. A player that could represent the city of Chicago’s blue-collar mentality. Be their mutt if you will.
There comes a time when every athlete needs to realize when their health is a priority and a future with their family is what is most important. That point for me is now. After several concussions, doctors have strongly recommended I stop playing the game that I love. For once in my life, I am going to listen.
I am extremely proud of what I accomplished in my career, and I want to make it clear; I would not change anything about it. I won two Stanley Cups, made lifelong friends – and some enemies, too – and will cherish those memories for the rest of my life.
To the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Stan Bowman, and Rocky Wirtz, thank you for taking a chance on a kid who was passed over twice in the NHL Draft. Without their belief in me, my underdog story would not have been written. I also want to thank the Chicago Blackhawks Medical Staff - Dr. Michael Terry, Mike Gapski, Jeff Thomas and Patrick Becker – for providing me with the best care I could have asked for throughout my seven years in Chicago as well as the equipment staff – Troy Parchman, Jimmy Heintzelman, Clint Reif and DJ Kogut – for keeping me sharp on the ice.
To my wife, Chaunette and my kids, Andy and Dax, thank you for always standing in my corner and being my biggest fans. Thank you to my parents, Doug and Darlene, my brothers, Jason and Joshua and my sister, Alex, for always believing in me and shaping me into the man I am today. Thank you to my agent Pat Brisson for always treating me like a big dog even though I was just a little guy. And lastly, a special thanks to my coaches, Joel Quenneville, Claude Julien and Jeremy Colliton. I hope it was as fun for you to coach me as it was for me to play for you.
I will miss the locker room and my teammates from both Chicago and Montreal. I hope they will miss me too. Though I might have been excessively loud, pulled a prank once or twice and given you a hard time, I always prided myself on keeping the mood light and being the best teammate I could be. It was a pleasure competing with you night in and night out.
Most of all, I will miss the fans. I was lucky enough to play in two of the best hockey cities and fanbases in the world in Chicago and Montreal and I am grateful for my experiences with all of you. I gave everything I had every night for you, and you are the reason this was one of the toughest decisions in my life.
Thank you all for giving a mutt a home, and a chance to live out my dream.