Alexander Steen retired from the NHL on Thursday after 15 seasons, the past 12 with the St. Louis Blues.
The 36-year-old forward sustained a back injury last season and has multiple levels of degenerative herniated disks in his lumbar spine.
“This has been an emotional process,” Steen told the Blues website. “But as I look back on my years in hockey, I would like to thank our organization, our city, our fans and my teammates as I am so proud of all the teams I was part of.”
Steen was limited to four postseason games last season because of the back injury. He played in each of the Blues’ three games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers before playing 8:59 in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Vancouver Canucks on Aug. 14; the Blues lost the best-of-7 series in six games.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Dec. 3 that Steen was in St. Louis and still had some issues but did not have surgery and was “more of a wait and see than (forward Vladimir) Tarasenko.” Tarasenko had shoulder surgery in early September and is expected to be reevaluated in February.
Steen told the paper Aug. 24 that he first sustained the injury prior to training camp last season, which began in July under the NHL Return to Play Plan.
“With kind of an accelerated timeline, I think we were chasing it a little bit from the get-go,” he said. “Tried taking a couple periods off, like a couple of sections of camp … to see if things would calm down. But we just couldn’t get it under control.”
Steen was in the final season of four-year, $23 million contract (average annual value $5.75 million) he signed Sept. 23, 2016, and could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
He scored 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 55 games last season, an NHL career-low, and played his 1,000th game Feb. 1.
Steen ranks fourth in Blues history in games played (765), fifth in points (496), sixth in assists (301) and ninth in goals (195).
Selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the No. 24 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft, Steen scored 622 points (245 goals, 377 assists) in 1,018 games with Toronto and St. Louis. He scored 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 91 Stanley Cup Playoff games and helped the Blues win the Cup in 2019.