Former Nashville Predators forward Blake Geoffrion, the homegrown pride of Smashville, has retired from his professional hockey career, citing the lingering effects of the depressed skull fracture he suffered last November.
Once upon a time, Geoffrion was one of the most energizing figures in the Predators organization, a highly touted local product who proved that kids from Nashville's youth hockey program could make it all the way to the big leagues (well, at least if they boasted the most legendary bloodlines of any pro athlete in history).
How quickly things can change.
Despite some highlight moments during his rookie season, in 2011-2012 he couldn't quite lock down a steady spot in the Nashville lineup, eventually getting traded to Montreal in exchange for Hal Gill. He played 13 games the rest of the way that season for the Habs, and got hurt playing in the AHL during the lockout which shortened this past season.
The sudden end to Blake's playing career understandably leaves open many questions as to what he might have accomplished in the years ahead, but neither Blake nor his father Danny sound like the types to get stuck in the past:
"He has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. He has won the Hobey Baker, he has made the NHL, he has scored a hat trick, it's all good stuff," Danny said. "At the end of the day it's a sad day. It's unbelievable. At 25, he was just hitting his peak time, but it is what it is. God has a reason for everything."
In 55 NHL games with the Predators and Canadiens, Geoffrion posted 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists).
"Obviously tough for me to do, but it is what it is," Blake said. "And I'm ready for the next challenge and next chapter of my life to begin."
--- Josh Cooper, The Tennessean
For more on Blake's story, read this fine profile by ESPN's John Buccigross.
This summer, Nashville's golden child is Seth Jones, the All-American wunderkind whose story contains many elements which sound like echoes of Geoffrion's: local ties, a family history of professional athletics, being a representative of an unconventional pipeline for hockey talent, and the highest of achievements at the developmental level on the way to the pros.
After the disappointment of watching the 2013 Predators stumble their way to a lousy finish, the drafting of Jones and the recently-concluded Development Camp have come along like a thorough spring cleaning. Over at Smashville 24/7, the mood reaches its pinnacle with the proclamation that Jones is "destined for greatness".
Today's retirement announcement by Geoffrion should remind us, however, that hockey is a game in which little is certain, and even the brightest careers can disappear in the blink of an eye.
Destiny? Invoking that word is like asking the hockey gods to put their wrath on display. I'm hugely hopeful about what Jones might be able to do in the years ahead, but let's give his story a bit of time to develop, and not get ahead of ourselves.
You had a good run, Boomer, and I wish you all the best in your post-playing career. We'll always have that critical hat trick in Buffalo to remember your playing days by: