Good perspectives on his part. There is way more to life than one’s personal job or career (in his case, professional hockey).
It is good to give your best and all. He did that–his ‘chicklets’ on the ice, the stitch marks from being repeatedly clubbed and hit by the puck. His turning himself inside out for all to see–his openly crying about fans’ appreciation and about the difficult decision he had made.
At the same time, though, the honesty with self–as he mentioned, he knew he wasn’t as strong as he used to be and also the idea of retirement had crept into his consciousness the past six months. He also wanted to control his fate–rather than being a pawn all over again (risking another trade, having been traded away once), he retired on his own terms.
He also chose family–or so he says, for the first year off anyway. He recognizes that off-seasons were not enough extended time with a growing famille.
He truly savoured every last moment of his retirement game. He wore his Edmo and hockey love openly and the Edmo fans reciprocated. He was truly humbled–a testament to his ‘open’ character.
Above all, as songwriter Hal David put it, “knowing when to leave may be the smartest thing anyone can learn”. Finally knowing what is most right for oneself (and sometimes one’s family), and choosing accordingly. I also suspect–him being an Oilers team man–that he made a decision which will also strengthen the team, allowing someone else to come in and potentially assume his role as a necessary veteran presence. So many ways in which this move and choice was ‘win-win’ for all.