Two American NHL veterans are hanging it up after long careers.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is walking away from a contract that had one year and $6 million remaining. The 37 year old defenseman’s decision was helped by his current injuries. He reportedly played without an ACL in this year’s playoffs.

Rafalski played 833 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings. In his 11 years, he scored 79 goals and 515 points. He was a member of three Stanley Cup teams (’00 Devils, ’03 Devils, ’08 Red Wings). He’s also won an Olympic silver medal twice with USA, in 2002 and 2010. In 2010, he was named to the all-Olympic team, as well as best defenseman, after finishing the tournament first in defenseman scoring (8 points). Rafalski was a two time all-star, in 2004 and 2007.

One of the underrated defensemen of his generation, Rafalski’s sudden retirement leaves the Red Wings with $6 million to play with in the offseason. That number could grow if his blueline mate Nicklas Lidstrom also decides to hang up the skates.

Rafalski’s teammate on the 2002 US silver medal team, Doug Weight, is also expected to announce his retirement this week. Unlike Rafalski, Weight has made his way around the NHL, playing 1238 games with the Rangers, Oilers, Blues, Hurricanes, Ducks and Islanders. Weight tallied 278 goals and 1033 points in his 21 year career. In addition to his 2002 silver medal, he’s represented USA in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics. Also in 2006, Weight got his named etched onto the Stanley Cup as the Hurricanes beat the Oilers.

The four time all-star picked up his 1000th point with the Islanders, an assist on a Richard Park goal in a game on January 2, 2009 against the Coyotes. He became only the eighth American and 73rd NHLer to hit the 1000 point mark. His 1000th career game came with St. Louis against the Oilers on November 16, 2006.  Weight was the 25th American to reach the mark.

Hats off to great careers, guys. Here’s to happy retirement for the both of them!

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