Shock Value

19-year old Stefan Legein‘s sudden retirement shocked everyone. The Columbus draft pick’s decision to quit hockey not only came as a surprise to the hockey world, but to his parents as well. His mother did not know the news until it was reported in the news, while his father has denied any reports about Legein’s decision to quit. Legein has yet to comment on the situation or make any public announcements. The news was first broken by the Columbus Dispatch. Legein, one of the key players in the Canada-Russia Super Series, was one of the most highly touted prospects in the Columbus system, and was on his way to making it to the big leagues.

While Legein’s decision to quit has been surprising, it’s not unheard of. In 1975, the Canadiens picked defenseman Robin Sadler with the 9th overall pick after having a great season with Edmonton in the WCHL. However, Sadler never played in the NHL or WHA. One week into the Habs’ training camp, Sadler notified the team that he was hanging up his skates, apparently unable to cope with the pressures of NHL training camps, and began a career as a firefighter, forfeiting every single penny of the NHL contract he had just signed. After a two year hiatus, Sadler reappeared in hockey circles once again, being invited to the Oilers’ training camp, yet only to quit one week later, citing emotional stress and eating disorders.

I will be following this story closely, because of the intrigue and mystery that surrounds it. Perhaps Legein’s decision to quit hockey will become less murky in the coming weeks, but for now, it’s left everyone scratching their heads.

EDIT: Legein has until September 12 to change his mind. He needs to be report to training camp in Michigan should he choose to return. Since notifying the Jackets of his premature retirement, they have suspended him but maintain his rights. The Jackets will not be receiving compensation of any kind from the league.

Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch has more. Apparently the Jackets should’ve seen it coming after Legein’s return from a shoulder injury.

EDIT: Eric Duhatschek has more.

This article has 6 Comments

  1. My guess is that there is girl involved. ‘who do you care about more me? or the rest of your career?’

  2. My guess is that he just lost interest. If he wasn’t so passionate about it why didn’t he go the college route anyway?

    I’ve also been informed that a similar case has popped up with Brandon Regier, the Brandon Wheat Kings’ 1st pick in the ’07 draft. At least he made his decision early.

  3. I think this story goes along way in providing context as to how difficult it really is to be a NHL calibre athlete. So many of us (certainly myself included) forget the tremendous pressure, both mental and physical, that being a pro athlete requires of a person. It’s not just hockey skill that defines a pro player, it is everything, and maybe Stephan just can’t put it all together. If this is the case, we should applaud his courage to focus on happiness over money, two things not nearly so positively correlated as we like to think.

  4. Hockey is fun until it becomes a job. The beatings their bodies take, the training, and the pressure to crack the lineup is tough. A friend of a friend of mine plays football at USC on a partial scholarship. He says football has become such a chore that it’s not fun anymore, and has contemplated quitting altogether.

  5. The money is beyond most of our wildest dreams, but so is the commitment required, not to mention the public criticism. I can’t imagine someone vidoe taping my worst day at the office, and then “breaking it down” on National TV….it’s a rough life, that many of us forget is being performed by fragile humans, just like ourselves.

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