Jochen Hecht has decided to hang up his skates after 14 seasons in the NHL, leaving the Buffalo Sabres to return to his home country.
The German forward announced his retirement after the team’s 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Friday, which closed out the season for the Sabres.
Jochen Hecht said he made the decision to retire a week ago, around the time the Sabres were officially eliminated from playoff contention. This is now the fourth time in the last six seasons that Buffalo has failed to reach the playoffs, and the team is looking at at least one more year of rebuilding before it can contend again.
As he announces his retirement, Jochen Hecht said he plans to return to his native Germany where he and his wife will raise their children.
“It’s best for everybody to start a new life,” Hecht said of his decision to retire from the NHL.
Jochen Hecht started his NHL career playing for the Edmonton Oilers with a stop in St. Lois before being traded to Buffalo in 2002. He has been a staple on the Buffalo roster since then, serving as captain in 2007 and 2008 and notching a career-high 56 points in 2006-2007, when the Sabres won the President’s Cup. Hecht finishes his NHL career with 186 goals and 463 points in 833 career games.
Hecht may not be the only longtime Buffalo Sabres player departing from the team. There are rumors that the team will unload Ryan Miller in the offseason, swinging a trade to get as much value as they can before the netminder becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season. With the Sabres headed into a rebuilding season the 32-year-old goalie could also use a fresh start with a team ready to contend for the Stanley Cup.
Before he retired, Jochen Hecht got a nice parting gift from the Buffalo Sabres and interim head coach Ron Rolston. Hecht was selected as the final shootout participant for Buffalo, but failed to score.