Capitals forward Carl Hagelin announces retirement from NHL

In April, Carl Hagelin wasn’t ready to walk away from hockey. Though he hadn’t played since March 2022 after suffering a significant eye injury in practice and later undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, the Washington Capitals forward remained optimistic that he would be able to resume his NHL career.

On Wednesday, however, Hagelin announced his retirement from the NHL, citing lingering effects from his eye injury.

“It’s been an amazing ride, but it ends here,” Hagelin wrote on Instagram. “Unfortunately my eye injury is too severe to keep playing the game I love.”

Hagelin suffered the injury in practice, when a stick popped under his visor and hit him directly in his left eye. Doctors initially thought they may have to remove Hagelin’s eye, but it was salvaged after multiple surgeries, which left his pupil unable to dilate and gave him only partial vision in that eye.

Hagelin recovered enough that he was able to join the Capitals for informal skates last summer, but Washington announced on the first day of training camp that he was out because of a lower-body injury. He underwent hip resurfacing surgery in October and as recently as April retained hopes of resuming his career.

“My goal is to play again,” Hagelin said then. “My hip needs to feel good, though, to do it. It kind of comes back to that. I need to get 2½ really good months on the ice skating … and at that point, if it feels good, I want to play in the NHL again.”

Drafted by the New York Rangers in the sixth round of the 2007 draft, Hagelin played four seasons at the University of Michigan before signing with the Rangers in April 2011. He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in June 2015 and traded again, this time to Pittsburgh, in January 2016. He won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

Hagelin was traded twice more in the 2018-19 season, first moving from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles in November and then being traded by the Kings to the Capitals, which would become his final NHL team, in February. He played 187 games in Washington from February 2019 to March 2022, scoring 20 goals and totaling 66 points.

“I’m extremely grateful for all the memories hockey has given me and I’ve loved every single day of it,” Hagelin wrote. “I’m gonna miss going to battle [with] my teammates on a daily basis, I’m gonna miss the ups and downs of a season.

“Nothing excites me more than stepping on the ice in front of 20,000 passionate fans. … I want to thank my family, my wife and my kids for all their support. They made it possible for me to live out my dream.”

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