New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias has announced his retirement from the National Hockey League, and the Devils announced they will retire his No.26 during a home game next season.
The team also announced they will celebrate "Patrik Elias Week" over their final three home games this season, with Elias dropping the ceremonial puck on April 4, and him participating in warm-ups during the April 8 home finale.
"After 18 seasons, I am pleased to announce that I will be retiring from the National Hockey League, having played my last game with the New Jersey Devils," Elias said in a statement. "For the past few months, I have weighed this decision both physically and mentally. I am happy to say this provides me and my family with closure.
"I came here 22 years ago to play hockey - to do what I loved since I was 5 years old. I was able to play with great teammates, embrace the camaraderie and team spirit of being a Devil, and bring home a Stanley Cup on two occasions.
"I want to thank the ownership and management for not only supporting me, but allowing me the time to make this difficult decision. It is extraordinarily humbling that my number 26 will hang next to four of my former teammates. I am so proud to have played for one team, one organization over the course of my entire career."
Elias will be the fifth player in franchise history to have his number retired, joining No. 4 Scott Stevens (Feb. 3, 2006), No. 3 Ken Daneyko (Mar. 24, 2006), No. 27 Scott Niedermayer (Dec. 16, 2011) and No. 30 Martin Brodeur (Feb. 9, 2016).
Elias was drafted by the Devils in the second round with the 51st overall selection in the 1994 NHL Draft. He played all 18 full seasons of his NHL career in New Jersey, leading the team to two Stanley Cup Championships, in 2000 and 2003, two additional Stanley Cup Finals appearances, in 2001 and 2012, and four Eastern Conference titles.
"Patrik Elias helped to create the foundation for what it means, and what it takes, to be a part of the New Jersey Devils organization," said Josh Harris, Managing Partner of the Devils and Prudential Center. "This moment marks the end of an incredible playing career, but we eagerly look forward to celebrating Patty's 21 seasons of excellence and the legacy he is leaving for generations to enjoy."
Elias is the Devils' franchise leader in goals (408), assists (617) and points (1,025), and ranks third in games played with 1,240 behind only Daneyko (1,283) and Brodeur (1,259).