Monday, September 26, 2005

Blackburn Calls It A Career

Ranger goalie Dan Blackburn announced his retirement before Sunday's preseason game against Boston. The former 2001 first round pick ran into some bad luck two years ago at the Rangers practice facility. During a weight training session, he sustained nerve damage to his left shoulder, sidelining him for the entire '03-04 season.

Despite his disability, the 22-year-old Montreal, Quebec native worked diligently to attempt a comeback earlier this season wearing two blockers with a small glove to cover pucks with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. He played 12 games finishing 3-9-0 with a 3.54 goals against average (GAA) and an .892 save percentage.

Invited to training camp by the Blueshirts, Blackburn was a long shot to make the roster. Already at a disadvantage due to a numbers game involving Kevin Weekes, Henrik Lundqvist, Al Montoya and Chris Holt, Blackburn suffered another setback two weeks ago with a sprained knee.

Facing an uphill battle, he decided that it would be best to retire and take the $6 million insurance policy rather than feel discomfort returning.

"I have a permanent disability and I wasn't feeling comfortable with the way it was going," Blackburn said to MSG's Al Trautwig before last night's game.

"Obviously when I hurt my knee that didn't help things."

It put an end to a once promising career. Originally selected 10th overall four years ago, Blackburn made the team out of camp as an 18-year-old. He went 12-16-0 with a 3.28 GAA and .898 save percentage in 31 games as a rookie. In his second season, Blackburn posted his only career shutout against Calgary, a 1-0 overtime blanking at Madison Square Garden. In 32 games, he finished 8-16-4 with a 3.17 GAA and .890 save percentage.

Blackburn concludes his NHL career with a 20-32-4 record, 3.22 GAA and .894 save percentage in 63 games.

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