Former Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, 'a big-time winner', announces retirement
Jimmy Howard made the expected official Thursday and announced his retirement.
For his Red Wings teammates, and coach Jeff Blashill, it was the official end to one of the team's most competitive players over a successful 14-year career.
“Really competitive, and a big-time winner,” Blashill said after Thursday's morning skate in Dallas, during a Zoom media call. “He worked hard at his craft. He had a great early part of his career, and he worked with our goalie coaches to change his game so he could adapt because he wanted to be great.
“It just shows the competitiveness and the work ethic toward being great at his craft. Goaltending is one of those positions you can continuously work on and make adjustments and get better and he did that."
Howard, 36, had a difficult last season, during a season nearly everyone on the Red Wings struggled, as the team had the worst record in the NHL.
Howard won only two of 27 decisions (2-23-2), with a 4.20 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, in what was also the final year of his contract.
"Last year is as much on our hockey team as anybody," Blashill said. "When you look at his career in totality it really is a wonderful career. I’m thankful I got a chance to coach him because he was a great competitor and a really great Red Wing.”
Howard told The Detroit News over the summer he would be interested in playing another season, or two, if there was a right fit around the NHL.
There were reports of former Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who is now in the same role in Edmonton, reaching out to Howard. But Howard's family is now entrenched in the Metro Detroit area, and he was not interested in moving.
Howard, 36, announced his retirement on his Instagram account.
"It has been the honor of a lifetime to play and I'm forever thankful to the fans, everyone within the Red Wings organization, my teammates and my family for their ongoing support, loyalty and dedication," he said. "As I enter this new chapter in my life, I look forward to spending more time with my family, coaching my son's hockey team and new opportunities the future will hold."
Defenseman Danny DeKeyser played with Howard throughout both players' careers and appreciated Howard's competitiveness.
“He loved competing; that’s one thing that really stood out to me," DeKeyser said. "It just seemed like he always tried to do things the right way, and he gave us a chance to win on more nights than not.
“If he gave up a bad goal or had a bad game he could get it out of his head and go out there the next night and play hard and give us a chance to win. As a goalie you have to be able to do that because not every night is going to go your way.”
Howard had a 246-196-70 record with a 2.62 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and 24 shutouts in 543 games. Howard ranks third all-time in franchise history in games and victories (behind Terry Sawchuk and Chris Osgood) and is fourth in shutouts.
Howard was a 2003 second-round pick of the Wings and made his debut in 2005. He went on to win 246 games for Detroit, plus 21 more in the playoffs. He was an All-Star in 2012 and 2019, and was named to the 2015 All-Star Game, also, but suffered a groin injury the same night he was named to the ASG squad.
"Awesome career," Blashill said. "Jimmy was a great teammate, a great Red Wing. He had a great, great career and certainly want to wish him luck as he enters the next phase of his life.”