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Flyers defenseman Desjardins retires

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman
Eric Desjardins, the second highest-scoring defenseman in team history, announced his retirement Thursday.

A two-time All-Star, Desjardins' 17-year career was slowed by
injuries in recent seasons. He played in only 45 games last season
and 48 games two years ago and was not offered a contract by the
Flyers this summer.

"It's kind of a tough day, but I think it's pretty much come for me to make this decision," Desjardins said. "It was not easy and that's why I waited the whole summer to think about it. For me, it was really important to retire as a Flyer. I don't feel
I could be at the level that I want to be at, so that's why I
decided to retire."

Desjardins, a seven-time winner of the team's most outstanding defenseman award, had surgery last season to repair a partially dislocated right shoulder and missed 29 games. He missed the 2004
playoffs with a broken arm.

"I think Eric was the perfect athlete," Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said. "His conduct off the ice was always very disciplined and classy. On the ice, he was a gifted player who
played the game clean, hard and with dignity. You wish that
every player who came through your organization was like Eric
Desjardins."

Desjardins spent the last 11 seasons with the Flyers after he was acquired from Montreal in a 1995 deal that also brought John LeClair to Philadelphia. Desjardins had 396 points with the Flyers, behind only defenseman Mark Howe's 480.

He became a leader in the locker room for the Flyers, assuming the captaincy after Eric Lindros was stripped of the title.
Desjardins handled the transition until Keith Primeau assumed the
role in 2001.

"I needed someone to lean on when I became captain and he was
the perfect guy to bounce things off," Primeau said.

Desjardins said he wanted to take some time away from the game,
though he might be interested in coaching one day. Clarke said
Desjardins declined an offer to coach in the minor leagues next
season.

"I would really hope that he'd be remembered as one of the best defensemen that ever came through Philadelphia," said LeClair, a former teammate of Desjardins' with Montreal and Philadelphia. "People really have a lot of respect for him around the league. They know how good he is. As a teammate, you really appreciate how good he is. He did everything for us."

A second-round pick of the Canadiens in 1987, Desjardins recorded 136 goals and 439 assists in 1,143 games with Montreal and Philadelphia. He was eighth in career games played with the Flyers with 738.

He helped lead the Canadiens to the 1993 Stanley Cup championship, completing an unforgettable hat trick with an overtime tally in Game 2 of the finals against the Los Angeles Kings.

"I got a chance to play with him in Montreal and win the Stanley Cup with him," LeClair said. "Actually, he basically won me a Stanley Cup ring there. His three goals in Game 2 probably turned the whole series around for us. That's something I'll never forget."

A three-time All-Star, Desjardins helped his team reach the postseason in every one of his 17 seasons, collecting 23 goals,
57 assists and 80 points in 168 games.

The Associated Press and SportsTicker contributed to this report.