Rockford, Illinois News

Andrew Shaw ends ‘underdog’ NHL career after 10 seasons

ROCKFORD — Andrew Shaw is calling it a career after 10 NHL seasons that saw him win two Stanley Cups as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

“My first game as a rookie with the Chicago Blackhawks still sticks out in my mind,” he said in a video statement. “In my second shift, I had my first fight in the National Hockey League. I followed that up with my first NHL goal in the second period. From that point on, I knew I had a chance to be this team’s underdog–a player that could represent the city of Chicago’s blue-collar mentality [and] be their mutt if you will.”

The Blackhawks took a fifth-round flyer on Shaw in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and assigned him to the Rockford IceHogs, where he carved out role from himself, one some would call an enforcer, at least in years past, when the term was used to describe a player tasked primarily with responding to dirty or violent play and draw penalties. But while Shaw was certainly that guy, an ability to mix it up was equaled by aptness to score tough goals and create chances.

Shaw recorded 20 goals and 17 assists in 68 games with the Rockford IceHogs and finished his 544-game NHL career with 116 goals, 131 assists, 573 penalty minutes, and likely a lot of hockey left in the tank. But, with each concussion protocol came another risk, one Shaw said he’s no longer willing to take.

“There comes a time when every athlete needs to realize when their health is a priority and a future with their family is what is most important,” he said. “That point for me is now. After several concussions, doctors have strongly recommended I stop playing the game that I love. For once in my life, I am going to listen. I am extremely proud of what I accomplished in my career, and I want to make it clear; I would not change anything about it. I won two Stanley Cups, made lifelong friends — and some enemies, too — and will cherish those memories for the rest of my life.”

During the 2016 offseason, after a total of five campaigns with the organization, Shaw saw the cap-strapped Blackhawks ship him to Canadiens, a transaction that resulted in a six-year deal would have kept him in Montreal through the 2021-22 season. But, in Chicago fashion, Shaw was dealt back to the Blackhawks ahead of the 2019-20 slate.

“To the Chicago Blackhawks organization, [General Manager] Stan Bowman, and [Chairman] Rocky Wirtz, thank you for taking a chance on a kid who was passed over twice in the NHL Draft,” Shaw said. “Without their belief in me, my underdog story would not have been written. I will miss the locker room and my teammates from both Chicago and Montreal. I hope they will miss me too. Though I might have been excessively loud, pulled a prank once or twice and given you a hard time, I always prided myself on keeping the mood light and being the best teammate I could be. It was a pleasure competing with you night in and night out.”

Bowman called Shaw a player his teammates loved and opponents hated to face.

“No two moments sum up Andrew Shaw more than his famous ‘headbutt no-goal’ and his game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 that ricocheted off his shin pads,” Bowman said. “Throughout his 10-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, Andrew was always willing to lay his body on the line and put his teammates before himself. He epitomized energy, determination, grit, and toughness. Andrew played an integral role on two Stanley Cup Championship teams with the Blackhawks and grew into a leader in the latter part of his career. He kept the locker room on their toes but had the ability to keep his teammates relaxed and ready with his lively personality.”

Blackhawks Team Physician Dr. Michael Terry said although Shaw has recovered from a concussion he received Feb. 9 against the Dallas Stars, it was advised that he not rejoin the team.

“Given the potential long-term consequences of repetitive concussions,” Terry said, “we have advised him to discontinue his career as a professional hockey player. The Blackhawks are very supportive of his decision to prioritize his long-term health.”