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Brent Sopel announces retirement

Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel announced his retirement from hockey Friday.

Sopel, 38, played for six different teams throughout his NHL career from 1998-2011 and was a member of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup championship team. He had 44 goals, 174 assists and was a plus-32 in 659 NHL career regular-season games. He also spent three seasons in the KHL and played in 29 games for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL this season.

“I have been so lucky to play the sport I love for the last 18 years,” Sopel said in a statement. “I fulfilled a lifelong dream of winning a Stanley Cup Championship with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.

“Today’s decision is not made lightly. This is the right time for my next chapter. I look forward to staying involved with hockey while maintaining family roots in Chicago. I am excited to spend more time with my children in the city we call home.”

Sopel especially reflected fondly on his time with the Blackhawks. He played 154 games for them from 2007-2010.

“While each professional season holds a special place in my heart, the years I spent with the Chicago Blackhawks are my fondest memories,” Sopel said. “The Chicago Blackhawks are a top class organization with a foundation for success on and off the ice.”

Wolves general manager Wendell Young released a statement Friday thanking Sopel for his time with them.

“We thank Brent for his service and his professionalism this season,” Young said. “He has been an excellent role model for our players. We wish him the best as he pursues other dreams in the hockey world.”

Sopel plans to continue with a broadcasting career in Chicago and coach youth players at the Sopel Academy of Defense camps. He has also accepted a role of athlete mentor at Ti22 Marketing, a Chicago-based company.