LONDON – It’s a tough game, hockey. What with all the upper and lower body injuries, concussions, lost teeth, and frostbite, you have to forgive those who decide to retire and do something less life-threatening. Like wrestling bears, or catching bullets in their teeth at the fairground.
Here’s a look at some inspirational retirement stories.
Wayne Gretzky – the Great One – retired from the NHL in 1999. He was already a business success story by then, having bought the Hull Olympiques 14 years earlier, and sold them in ’92 for a $375,000 CA profit. These days, along with his co-ownership of equipment company First Team Sports, he’s best known for the Toronto restaurant that bears his name. If you want to emulate Gretzky’s successful retirement – well, you’ll have to start by being an amazing player!
Greg Mueller is a man with more than one string to his bow. During his nine years as a hockey pro in Europe he found he had a taste for poker, and on retiring, took the game up seriously. By the end of 2012, Mueller had finished in the money in the World Series Of Poker and the World Poker Tour on no less than 30 occasions. He won two WSOP bracelets in 2009. By 2010 he’d won nearly $2,000,000 playing Hold ‘Em. If Greg’s story inspires you to try your hand at online poker, check http://www.unitedstatesgamblingonline.com/ for info on the legal issues surrounding US casino sites.
Mario Lemieux’s story is an inspirational one. In 1997 Lemieux was forced into retirement after many years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, having been diagnosed with lymphoma. The team itself was in a bad way after years of poor management, but Mario took it upon himself to buy the Penguins and make sure they stayed in Pittsburgh. Not only that, but he ensured that every one of the team’s creditors was eventually paid in full. Taking his numerous other health problems into account, a return to the ice looked unlikely; but in late 2000, he was back – and scored in his first game. A unique individual.
Bobby Orr’s retirement story shows that a shrewd career rethink can be the salvation of many an ex-pro. Orr signed the NHL’s first ever seven-figure contract – and yet when he retired, he discovered he was broke. After years of litigation, interspersed with some coaching work and a number of endorsement deals, Orr was back on his feet. He set up his own player’s agency in 1996, and today the Orr Hockey Group continues to thrive. Bobby Orr proves that if you’re prepared to fight, you can pull yourself out of the deepest hole.