Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Prospect Steven Legein Retires .. at 19

by Jes

A 19-year old man retiring from professional/amateur hockey is not that unusual. Many prospects that have no real shot of doing much in the pro hockey world do it all the time, opting for University or a career in the 'real' world. Why ride buses for days on end to make $30,000 a year when you can make double that with far less travel?

When it is a promising 2nd round prospect with no history of major injury? That IS unusual.

Via FanHouse: Stefan Legein, a 2007 second round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets who is just 19, has retired from professional hockey. I'm sure BJs fans are quite stunned rightaboutnow.

The reason: He just didn't want to play anymore. It's that simple.

Legein seemed to be on the path to a potential NHL career, and, if you go through the FanHouse post, you see that Legein certainly didn't appear unhappy. The BJ's certainly had big plans for the kid, and you know that the team desperately needs some of its prospects to pan out.

My first instinct, naturally, was to think "What a waste!". I can understand being in a funk, but why waste so many years of training and development when the potential for big $$ exists. Of course, that is merely me projecting my own interests and attitudes on someone I have never had any contact with.

I know that some BJ's fans are probably pissed at the kid for quitting so soon, especially given the team's need for actual talent. It's been a hard few years for fans of the club, and the last thing they need is one of their top prospects bailing on them.

As Adam Proteau of The Hockey News notes, we ought not to vilify the kid for his decision.

I hope the young man isn’t vilified for his decision. Who among us hasn’t had doubts in our late teens (or for that matter, well beyond that age) about our direction in life? Legein’s biggest problem is he has been in a line of work that receives so much publicity and adulation most casual observers assume he should be down on his hands and knees in gratitude for the opportunities he’s been afforded.

Exactly! I know I changed career paths and desires at 20, opting out of a potentially lucrative career as a software designer. I hated (and still do) computer programming and computer science, and I never imagined how utterly dull it would be when I signed up for a program.

I left after a year, and found myself choosing Accounting and Finance. Yes, the money isn't as good, but I'm much happier with myself.

Now, I can imagine that this young man had the same kind of "voila!" moment that caused him to say, "I really don't enjoy all of this hard physical training and I don't enjoy playing highly competitive hockey enough to continue on". Yes, playing hockey is fun, but when it is your job? Maybe not so much.

Oh, and score one for bloggers (Bethany's Hockey Rants, a title she kinda *cough*stole*cough* from us) for breaking the story!

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Very interesting story, and I wish the kid luck in whatever he does.

I certainly hope that he isn't vilified by people for making a life decision for himself.
As I posted elsewhere, I believe there's much more to this story than meets the eye... Perhaps he has a drug problem, or perhaps he just wants to remain in his childhood for a bit longer? Perhaps he has clinical depression...

Who knows what is really going on... His dad seems pretty unsure of it too, so really, this is just a non-event...

Why does there have to be 'something else'? Why can't the kid quit because he is tired of the 'scene'? Highly competitive hockey is not an environment for everyone, and maybe he simply doesn't enjoy the game enough to want to put up with the workouts, coaches yelling at him, road trips, dirty bunnies ...

If I had to theorize, his dad is trying to dissuade his son from this 'retirement', and that is why he is being contrary.

There have been other players who have come back from breaks, so this kid might just need a year off before getting back the spark.
I have no beef with anything you've said Jes, I just believe that when a story like this breaks, and is spread all over, there is usually a motivating factor, and while "I have no more interest in playing hockey" sounds good in terms of lip-service, there is usually some follow-up media story to it...

My point being, someone who works THAT hard to get THIS far, doesn't usually drop out of the game at the very moment he can actually stand to gain something big out of his labours...

I would imagine there's something more at play. It might be his dad being Mr. Lindros on him or whatever. Just some external factor... Maybe his dad molested him as a kid, and he went this far in hockey just to pull the plug on his dad's hopes... We don't know... That was all I was trying to say...
Is there really any evidence that he was at "the very moment" you were talking about? I read somewhere else (can't recall where) that he wasn't even expected to make the team this year. Sure, some people are like Jimmy Howard, who are willing to tough it out in the AHL for what seems like forever to get the chance at the NHL, but some people aren't. I mean, I've looked at the younger guys who are signing in Europe because they just want to play rather than be a lowly player on an NHL team, and it makes as much sense, if you're not enjoying it, to quit while you're ahead, rather than "suffering" on the off-chance that you're going to make the team, become a superstar and get filthy rich.

It's said that many people go through many careers before finding what they love, maybe this is just his time to make that decision to pursue something else.
There has to be more to this story. Reading a comment from one of the Blue Jackets staff stated they had been in contact with him. Not only that but his shoulder was fine and he was ready to go. I'm wondering if some kind of family fall out is related to this. Especially since it seems like his father is very much involved in his career.
1) Have to agree with Czech. You don't get this far, work towards your goal, then suddenly quit unless there are other 'factors' involved.
2) Does he have a legit fall back career? Does his family have money? If no, then can't understand his 'quitting' when his career in the pros is just starting. Could see that choice if after 3-4 years he hasn't progressed and the NHL looks out of reach, but at 19 unless your name is Crosby you have some maturing to do, physically and emotionally to become ready for "The Show"
A bit literal there Garth? I'm saying he's gotten to where he's regarded as one of the Jackets' top prospects, and he's on the verge of cashing in on all his years of hard work and dedication to hockey. Why give it up now? Wouldn't it at least make sense to get a few million in the bank first before retiring?
My point being that there are no guarantees that he's going to bank "a few million" any time soon. How much more time does he put in? Do he play unhappily for three more years? And if it doesn't happen then does he give it a few more? Before you know it he's a washed up 40-year old journeyman AHLer wondering why he wasted all those years doing something that he didn't enjoy and contemplating sticking a gun in his mouth on the eve of his 16th AHL training camp in Peoria.

Seriously though, if he's not happy now, why prolong the agony? Yes, that's obviously hyperbolic, but it's also the saying.

For some people, the money's not everything. I would argue that if you don't have the passion, you shouldn't just be doing something for the money. How can you argue against that?
I'm not arguing against it, Garth... What I'm saying is that it seems like an odd time to figure out you don't enjoy hockey. Why not AFTER training camp, IF he gets cut (from what I've read at Hockey's Future, he seems to have a legit shot)...?

Why not AFTER one year making $75K in the AHL, then trying to make it one last time (Last kick at the can kinda thing)...?

My point really, is that either he hasn't enjoyed playing for a long time, or he has other issues, or something else is taking a role in his decision... Maybe he just REALLY doesn't want his dad buggin him anymore... Who knows..

Either way, seems like odd timing. But your point isn't overlooked by me dude. Just looking at mitigating factors, that's all...

Hence, we'll surely hear more about this over the weeks leading up to camp...
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