Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook says NHL career is over after 15 seasons

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced Friday that his NHL career is over after 15 seasons.

"After several surgeries, countless hours of rehab and training to get back on the ice at the level of my expectations, it will not be possible for me to continue playing hockey," Seabrook said in a statement Friday. "This is what is best for me and my family."

Seabrook, 35, has not played in an NHL game since November 2019. Over a three-month period from December 2019 to February 2020 he had surgery on his right shoulder as well as on both hips. The defenseman "tweaked" his back in a pre-training-camp session this January. Blackhawks team doctor Michael Terry said it was an issue with the right hip that prevents Seabrook from playing. Terry said the team has "tried all available conservative treatments, and nothing has worked well enough for him to live his life as an athlete."

Chicago placed Seabrook on long-term injured reserve. He was signed through the 2023-24 season, with a $6.875 million cap hit and full no-move clause.

"I told my body to screw off for 15 years," Seabrook said. "It finally turned around and said, 'I'm not going to do it anymore.'"

Seabrook, a first-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2003, finished his career having played in 1,114 games and scored 103 goals and 361 assists. Most important to Blackhawks fans, he played in 123 playoff games (20 goals, 39 assists) and helped the team to three Stanley Cups.

"Without Brent Seabrook, the Chicago Blackhawks would not have three Stanley Cups," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. "He concludes his career as not only one of the best defensemen in franchise history, but one [of] the greatest Chicago Blackhawks of all time. We cannot thank Brent enough for what he did for the Blackhawks organization, the city of Chicago and this fan base. He will always be a part of the Blackhawks family and we wish him well in his life after hockey."

The Blackhawks are currently undergoing a rebuild, with Bowman telling ESPN this summer that his team has a "ways to go" before it can sustainably win again. There was a commitment to play more young players this season. The Blackhawks, however, have been one of 2021's pleasant surprises. At 12-7-5, Chicago is in fourth place in the Central Division, which would qualify for the playoffs.

"I sacrificed everything for this team in our quest to lift three Stanley Cups and gave it everything I had for you," Seabrook said in a statement. "I couldn't have asked for a better fan base to play for. You, more than anyone, kept me honest and always pushed me to be better -- while also cheering me as your All-Star and Champion. Lifting the Stanley Cup in 2015 in front of all the fans at the United Center will be a memory I'll never forget. You have truly made Chicago a second home. My family and I will be forever grateful for your love and support and I look forward to always having a special connection with you the fans. I will always be a Blackhawk."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN's Greg Wyshynski that Seabrook will "likely not" have to be protected in the expansion draft.

"It's also likely he can't be selected by Seattle," Daly said. "Before the draft we will review list of players and deem players who have long-term, career-ending injuries as 'exempt' for purposes of draft."