Zack Smith retired from the NHL on Friday after 12 seasons.
The 33-year-old forward last played in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019-20 when he scored 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 50 games. His last NHL game was Feb. 12, 2020, before he had back surgery in March and was placed on long-term injured reserve.
“After having the surgery, it didn’t really solve the issues that I was going through,” Smith told The Athletic. “I haven’t played a game in a year and a half. And that will be two years in February since I’ve played an actual NHL game. And it would have been tough to come back after that length of time and get back to the pace, knowing that I probably would have lost a step or two.”
Prior to the 2019-20 season, Smith played the previous 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators.
“There were definitely a bunch of different factors that went into it,” Smith said. “And I don’t want to sound like I was taking it for granted or that I didn’t appreciate the life that hockey has given to me, but my heart wasn’t into it the last couple of years.”
Selected by Ottawa in the third round (No. 79) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Smith scored 204 points (98 goals, 106 assists) in 662 regular-season games and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 45 Stanley Cup Playoff games.