Ray Whitney closes a terrific career

The Wizard is hanging them up.

Ray Whitney, 42, announced his retirement as an NHL player Wednesday, capping a terrific career which produced 1,064 points (385-679) in 1,330 regular-season games.

Not bad for a guy who was once waived.

He put up consistent production thanks to soft hands, great passing and playmaking ability, and the heart the size of a mountain.

"For the past 23 years, I have had the privilege of earning my living playing hockey in the National Hockey League," Whitney said in a statement released by his agency, CAA Sports. "Along the way, I have made countless memories and friendships, which I will always cherish. Every city I played in, the fans welcomed my family and me with open arms, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

"I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my teammates and coaches, especially the 2006 Stanley Cup team in Carolina. I was lucky to have great agents at CAA Sports, who stood by me through the good times and the tough times. I want to say a special thank you to my parents, who gave me the chance to do what I loved.

"Finally, I want to thank my wife Brijet, and our three beautiful children, who have been incredibly supportive of me throughout my career. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to live my dream."

Whitney stood out during his career also because he had something to say. He was a great interview who wasn’t shy to speak his mind and provide insightful thoughts on the game.

He also found success on the ice during the dead puck era despite his 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame, fighting through the clutching and grabbing to produce several seasons of 60-plus and 70-plus points before the rules were changed to open up the game in 2005.

He continued to thrive post-2005, putting up a career-high 83 points (32-51) with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006-07. He also had 77 points (24-53) in 2011-12 with the Coyotes at the age of 39.

"Terrific career," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told ESPN.com Wednesday. "He was a key player on our Cup team in Carolina from his leadership to keeping the guys loose to scoring big goals for us. He was just a lot of fun to be around.

"He knows the game and he worked really hard," added Rutherford. "He wasn’t a big guy. To have the career he had is pretty special."