Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The end of the line for Peter Bondra?
I've heard nothing new in the Slovak media, but reports out of Atlanta seem to indicate that Peter Bondra, one of the greatest Slovak players ever, may retire...
General manager Don Waddell suspects Bondra, 38, will retire. He stands two goals shy of 500 for his career after scoring 21 in 60 games last season. A sports hernia injury greatly affected his performance in the second half and caused him to miss 22 games
After injuring his groin on Dec. 3 at Anaheim, Bondra chose not to have surgery, believing the recovery would have taken too long. Upon returning on Jan. 24, he was far less effective.
Nonetheless, a national hero in his native Slovakia, Bondra chose to play in February's Olympics despite the injury. While he was impressive in Turin, he scored only six goals after the Olympic break.
"I haven't heard any word from him or his agent as to whether he's going to play again," Waddell said.
As to whether he thought Bondra was going to retire, Waddell said, "I think he is."
Regardless, Waddell said he has not initiated calls to Bondra.
"We want to create some spots for younger players," Waddell said. "We need that. He had a serious injury. ... I'm not going to 100 percent write anything off, but right now it doesn't look like it."
Bondra finished the season with 21 goals and 18 assists in 60 games. Those are respectable totals for a 38-year old fighting through injury.
If I were the Washington Capitals, I'd be on the phone right now to his agent. Bondra never really wanted to leave Washington and had set some roots down there. He spent most of the lockout season in Washington, leaving only to play a brief spell in Poprad. The Capitals need both veteran presence and some offensive help. If Bondra signs for about the same amount of money that he played for last year ($550,000, according to TSN), then they'd be foolish not to at least attempt to sign him.
Bondra still has some to give and can be a decent role-player and power play specialist for any team. I know he's pretty damn old, but it would suck to see Bondra, one of the NHLs most exciting snipers the past decade, retire.
The Caps offered him more guaranteed money than Atlanta did AND a sweet post-retirement position in the club's front office. Bondra declined. The trade to Ottawa ruined the relationship from his perspective, the rejection of a more-than-fair deal ruined it from the team's point of view.
It's a shame that the bridge has been burned, but it certainly has been and I would be fall-off-my-chair shocked if the team re-signed him for 2006-07. I'm just hoping the sides can reconcile enough to appropriately honor him after he hangs up the skates. With what's his name lighting the lamp now, it's easy to forget everything #12 did for the team and the community, but he was a great, great Capital for many years when there weren't many great Caps. He'll be missed.
I wasn't aware of the offer from WSH. I just remember what happened during the lockout, where he spent time with his kid (doing youth hockey stuff) in Washington and had said he had never really wanted to leave. Perhaps he was hurt by the trade, and that's why he went to Atlanta. Still, things can change and time can heal wounds. Leonsis seems like the type of personal guy who could somehow convince Bondra to come back.
Sorry for the long and ugly url, but that is my source.