Hayden Goethe, Published January 11 2013
Ex-Spuds standout Jason Blake hopes NHL career isn't over yet
“Now that there’s a good chance that my career probably is over, you reflect on the players you played with … how cool it was,” said Blake, who starred for Moorhead High School and the University of North Dakota. “There’s a lot of reflecting going on, which probably drives my family nuts.”
But that doesn’t mean the free agent is ready to call it quits.
Blake said Friday evening that he spoke to his agent, Neil Sheehy, earlier that day about trying to get his name out there to teams looking for veteran help in what has been an unusual offseason.
The NHL and the players’ association reached an agreement earlier this week that ended a lockout, which had delayed the start of the regular season for three months. The season will start Jan. 19, leaving free agents like Blake with little time left to find teams before play begins.
NHL training camps open on Sunday.
Blake said the season, which is expected to be only 48 games long instead of the usual 82, could be a blessing in disguise for a player his age.
“It would be fun, and the shortened season would be perfect,” he said.
Blake, a forward, represented the United States at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. He was an NHL All-Star in the 2006-07 season, scoring a career-high 40 goals for the New York Islanders.
He played in 45 games last season for the Anaheim Ducks, compiling seven goals and five assists. He missed three months in the early part of last season with tendon damage in his left forearm after an opponent’s skate cut him just above the left wrist.
Family is at the center of Blake’s life. His wife, Sara, is expecting the couple’s fourth child in February.
They have two daughters – ages 11 and 5 – and a 9-year-old son.
He said if he did sign with a team, he would not uproot his family due to the shortened season. So the location of an interested team is not as important to him. What does matter is whether or not the team could contend.
“When I look back on my career, I didn’t get an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup,” Blake said. “But other than that, I have no regrets.”
Blake has kept active during the lengthy offseason. Last week, he skated with Minnesota Wild players Zach Parise, Kyle Brodziak, Cal Clutterbuck and fellow former Spuds standout Matt Cullen among others.
Sheehy said that the Wild “are not a possibility” for Blake to sign with. Blake added that Minnesota would have been “the ideal situation,” since he makes his home in the Twin Cities and the Wild are expected to be a playoff team.
“You don’t want to go to any team just to play,” Blake said. “Granted, I’d like to play. … The worst thing (a team) can say is no. If they have interest in me, I don’t have to say yes either.”
Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558