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Paul Kariya retires after 15 years -- and has some harsh words for the NHL

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After taking a year off, Paul Kariya has decided to call it quits. Not because teams aren't calling him - they are - nor because he's too old to play - he's not. The All Star forward is retiring because his doctors are telling him that to not do so is too big of a risk. Kariya took the 2010-2011 season off in the hopes that he would recover from his most recent concussion. At the time, his brain function was said to be at 50% due to the numerous concussions he'd received over his career. Although he has recovered a great deal and says he feels 100%, the risk of another concussion is too great, he says, to return.

He also says the NHL is not doing enough to stop these types of injuries. "If you want to get rid of it, I’m a believer that you don’t go after the employees, you go after the employers," said Kariya. "The first concussion I had, on a brutal, blindside hit, the guy got a two-game suspension. That was in 1996. The last one, from (the Buffalo Sabres’ Patrick) Kaleta, was exactly the same play, and he doesn’t get anything."

Kariya's strong stance on the subject has been echoed by many former players, most of whom have had their careers cut short due to concussions. Although the NHL has taken even more steps to address the issue - they've recently taken language out of Rule 48 to broaden its scope - many players think like Kariya does: it's not enough. His answer? "If you start at 10-game suspensions and go to 20, that sends a message to the players. But if you start fining the owners and suspending the coach, then it’s out of the game."

It may seem radical, but it eliminated the bench clearing brawls that used to be so common. Perhaps it will work with this.

* Personal Note * Thanks, Paul, for being a dynamic player who was very easy to like and an absolute joy to watch. In fact, you're one of my favorites, and I proudly wear your name on an Avalanche third - the very first jersey I ever bought - to many games. You helped foster my love for hockey and made going to Ducks games actually enjoyable. You were a class act all the way and will be missed across the hockey world. Best of luck to you and warmest wishes to you and your family.