Jimmy Howard retires after 11-plus seasons with Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

Through more than a decade with the Detroit Red Wings, Jimmy Howard was an NHL All-Star three times, the runner up for the Calder Memorial Trophy, and celebrated with the Stanley Cup.

It was the second season after the 2008 championship that Howard emerged as the team’s starting goaltender, going 37-15-10 with a .924 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average in 2009-10. He made the All-Rookie team in 2010, and was named to the All-Star team in 2012, 2015 and 2019.

Howard announced on Instagram on Thursday morning that he was retiring, deciding to “to say farewell to playing professional hockey and move on to the next chapter.”

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to play and I’m forever thankful to the fans, everyone within the Red Wings organization, my teammates and my family for their ongoing support, loyalty and dedication,” Howard wrote.

Howard, 36, spent his entire career with the Wings, rising through the organization after being selected 64th in 2003.

“When I was an assistant here he was an All-Star, and then he was an All-Star again later in his career,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It shows the competitiveness, and also the work ethic that showed in being great at his craft. Goaltending is one of those positions that you can continuously work on and make better, and he continually did that.

“When you look at his career in totality, it was a really, really wonderful career. He was a great competitor and a really great Red Wing.”

Howard ranks fourth in his draft class with 246 victories in 543 games, trailing Marc-Andre Fleury (467 in 848), Jaroslav Halak (272 in 521) and Corey Crawford (260 in 488).

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Howard enjoyed success early in his career. He finished second in voting for rookie of the year to defenseman Tyler Myers in 2010. That spring, Howard earned his first taste of the NHL playoffs, starting all 12 games before the Wings were eliminated in the second round.

He followed that up with again winning 37 of 63 games in 2010-11. The next season Howard posted 35 victories and a .920 save percentage in 57 games, and was named to the All-Star Game.

Howard was named to the All-Star Game again in 2015, but on the same day the announcement was made, Howard suffered a groin injury during a game at Washington and was not able to play. He returned to the All-Star Game in 2019.

“He was a great goalie for us for a long time,” veteran defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “He gave us a chance to win more nights than not. He loved playing hockey, loved competing. One thing that I think made him a good goalie was his ability to block out things that happened in the past – if he had a bad game, he could rinse it and go out the next night and have a good game.

“Another quality of his was not things too seriously all the time and being able to go out there and have fun, joke about things, even if they weren’t going the right way. He liked to have fun.”

The 2019-20 season wasn’t much fun for the Wings, or Howard. His declined was dramatic:  He won only twice in 27 starts, his last victory dating to Oct. 29, 2019. Howard was pulled from his last two starts, his last appearance coming Feb. 27. Three weeks later, the NHL shut down the season because of the pandemic.

“As I enter this new chapter in my life, I look forward to spending more time with my family, coaching my son’s hockey team and new opportunities the future will hold,” Howard wrote.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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