After taking of the 2010-11 NHL season to recover from post-concussion symptoms, Paul Kariya has decided to retire from the NHL due to the high risk of receiving future concussions. Kariya played for the Colorado Avalanche during the 2003-04 season when the team also brought in Teemu Selanne. Those two, combined with the already strong cast of Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic, were supposed to lead the Avalanche to another Stanley Cup championship.
But it did not happen. The Avalanche finished fourth in the Western Conference and defeated the Dallas Stars, 4-1, in the opening round of the playoffs, but then lost to the San Jose Sharks, 4-2, in the semifinals. Kariya played in just 51 regular game, tallying 11 goals and 25 assists, due to injury. He played in just one playoff game, picking up an assist.
In retiring, Kariya took some heavy shots at the NHL over its lack of curbing dangerous hits:
"The thing that I worry about," Kariya said in an interview, "is that you’ll get a guy who is playing with a concussion, and he gets hit, and he dies at centre ice. Can you imagine what would happen to the league if a guy dies at centre ice?"
Kariya suggests fining owners and suspending coaches to control illegal hits. Kariya finished his career with 989 points in 989 games.
The Avalanche lost Peter Mueller to a concussion for the entire 2010-11 season when he suffered one in late September, just months after one ended his 2009-10 season early. The Avalanche believe he'll play this upcoming season, but no one is entirely sure of that.