Kevin Bieksa was a star for the Vancouver Canucks for ten seasons before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks to finish off his playing career.
Only, Bieksa's playing career isn't technically finished. Even though he is now a mainstay on Hockey Night in Canada and a clear star on their intermission panel, Bieksa hasn't officially retired from the NHL.
Bieksa hasn't played since the 2017-18 season — apart from an appearance at the 2018 Spengler Cup for Team Canada — but has delayed his official retirement for one simple reason: he wants to retire as a Canuck.
He revealed as much in an interview with Lisa Dillman at The Athletic.
"I was going to sign a one-day contract and retire as a Canuck two years ago, on March 28," said Bieksa. "I don’t even know where it stands. We had it planned, but COVID shut things down on the 15th. I had my flight booked and everything."
That would have been approximately two years after his last NHL game with the Ducks but the pandemic derailed the plan. It was going to happen sometime this past season instead, but another wrench was thrown in the works.
"We were talking [with the Canucks] at the start of the season and they were kind of figuring out when we were going to do it and they said they were definitely going to do it," said Bieksa. "Then Jim Benning gets fired. Now there’s a whole new regime. I was there for the mental health night but it wasn’t the time to bring it up. Who knows? If we get to it next year, fine. I’m not going anywhere."
As much as it seems clear Bieksa likes the idea of retiring as a Canuck, it wasn't his idea.
"It was actually my dad’s idea," said Bieksa. "I don’t need to retire – officially. I don’t need the attention. My dad was like, 'It’s good for the Canucks. Good for your legacy.' I’m basically doing it for my dad."
Bieksa evidently then smiled as he jokingly suggested that he might retire as a Duck instead.
More likely, this will get sorted out next season. There's an argument for Bieksa getting his name in the Canucks' Ring of Honour — perhaps a one-day contract and a Ring of Honour night could be combined into one memorable night.
The rest of Bieksa's interview is well worth the read if you have a subscription to The Athletic.