Rick Nash, third among active players in goals, retires

On this date: Rick Nash baffles defense with incredible goal (0:30)

On Jan. 17, 2008, Rick Nash put on a stickhandling clinic to score the winning goal for the Blue Jackets. (0:30)

Rick Nash, a 34-year-old left winger and one of the most prolific scorers in recent NHL history, has retired due to concussion-related symptoms, his agent announced Friday.

"Due to unresolved issues/symptoms from the concussion sustained last March, Rick Nash will be forced to retire from the game of hockey. Under the advice of his medical team, the risk of further brain injury is far too great if Rick returns to play," his agent Joe Resnick said in a statement. "Rick would like to thank everyone who has supported him during this difficult time period."

Nash was drafted first overall in 2002 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Playing for the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, Nash had 437 goals and 368 assists in 1,060 career games. Until his retirement, Nash was third among active NHL players in goals scored, ranking behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Marleau. He led the NHL with 41 goals in 2003-04 and was a six-time All-Star.

He suffered several reported concussions during his NHL career, most recently in March as a member of the Bruins. He missed six weeks with concussion symptoms in 2013 while with the Rangers.

Nash was an unrestricted free agent after completing an eight-year, $62.4 million deal originally signed with Columbus. He was involved in two high-profile trades in his career: the six-player blockbuster in July 2012 that brought him from Columbus to New York and the February 2018 deadline trade that saw the Bruins rent him before free agency from the Rangers.

He was a franchise star with the Blue Jackets, but his tenure with the Rangers had its peaks and valleys, particularly due to inconsistency in the postseason, where Nash had 14 goals in 73 games. While with the Bruins, Nash had three goals and three assists in 11 regular-season games and three goals and two assists in 12 playoff games.

But after the season, Nash informed teams that he would not entertain offers as a free-agent forward, instead taking time to decide on his future.

"Rick has the utmost ethics and integrity," Resnick told ESPN. "We turned down a lot of money. Let's put it that way."

There had been speculation that Nash would sit out the summer free-agency frenzy and return to the NHL later in the season, perhaps when there was more clarity on which teams were contending for the Stanley Cup. Resnick denied that was the case last summer.

In the end, the decision was to choose long-term health over a return to the ice.