After a long and storied NHL career, former Washington Capitals forward and longtime NHLer Carl Hagelin retiredCarl Hagelin Announces Retirement From NHL from professional hockey after the 2022-23 season, a decision that was partly due to the severe eye injury that kept him out last season.
Hagelin, a veteran of 713 NHL games across 11 seasons with the New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, and the Caps, also played more Stanley Cup Playoff games in the 2010’s than any other player and he was part of two Stanley Cup championships with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017.
“He’s definitely a normal dude”, Hagelin said of Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, whom Hagelin played with over four seasons in Washingon, when asked about his time alongside the NHL’s second all-time goal scorer. “I think people love being around him ’cause he’s actually a really good guy he actually cares about the people…I loved playing with him. He’s so much energy every day, so much joy not only playing hockey but just living life…”
Hagelin, who recorded 66 Points (20G, 46A) in 187 Games Played with the Capitals, told Cam and Strick hosts [former NHL enforcer] Cam Janssen and Andy Strickland that the camaraderie in D.C. amongst the club’s players was tight-knit.
“…It was an older group so a lot of character guys, such a fun team to be around”, said Hagelin, “It starts with Ovi, obviously. He’s a wild card, what’s he gonna say today, how is he gonna make the boys laugh…You have [Tom] Wilson, [TJ] Oshie, you have [Nicklas] Backstrom who’s such a great guy, John Carlson. It’s a great core group on that team and that’s why they’ve been so successful.”
Hagelin described his fellow Swede Backstrom as “someone I’ve always respected”, praising the Capitals’ franchise assists leader for his accomplishments in his NHL career. “I don’t think I’ve ever played with a smarter player”, Hagelin remarked, describing Backstrom’s passing ability, “The way he sees the game, how he can create chances by holding onto pucks and waiting for people to suck d-men in to make that one play…then you play with him and get to know him more and realize how good of a guy he is…he’s one of the best Swedes to ever play the game.”
An integral part of the Caps’ bottom-six forward group throughout his time in the District, Hagelin’s career trajectory took a downward spiral during a practice in the 2021-22 season, when he sustained an injury to his left eye that ultimately required serious operation.
“The eye is what it is, it’s never gonna be great”, Hagelin said of his current condition, “I need to take eye drops twice a day to lower pressure in the eyes so it doesn’t get worse.”
“You know, I’ve had two hip surgeries, I’ve had shoulder surgery, some knee problems, ankle problems, but right now it feels good”, continued the 35-year old, revealing that he has not skated since announcing his retirement.
“All of a sudden, one of my teammates was falling and as he was falling he kind of swings his stick like a baseball bat and I see his stick coming at full speed, I was hoping it could hit the eyebrow or the bone underneath, but it hit me right in the eye. I was just laying on the ice screaming, and all the guys on the team said it was one of the scariest things they’d seen or heard, ’cause I was just laying there.”
The immediate aftermath of the injury, which kept Hagelin out all of last season, is still clear in the mind of the former sixth-round pick of the New York Rangers.
“At that point I didn’t see anything because it was so swollen, and I’m like ‘oh man I’m blind right now’, and then after like 30 minutes the pain started getting worse and worse…so then I had to go in and kinda do a quick surgery.”
“At first they thought I might have to remove the eye, and get a fake eye but they realized fairly quick that wasn’t the case. I think for me it’s not that traumatic anymore because I knew it could have been a lot worse. So in that sense I’m happy, that now the eye looks good, I don’t think about it that much. It’s still sensitive to light I obviously don’t have much vision in it.”
“I think you realize just how much worse it could have gotten. But you also realize how many people have issues with their eyes, are living in way worse scenarios then I am. I’ve always been a positive guy, so just keep trucking.”
To hear Hagelin’s full comments on his eye injury, career, and more, click HERE.
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