The Tootoo Train has stopped at an NHL station for the final time.
Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet announced his retirement in Brandon, Man., on Friday, Oct. 19.
Tootoo was in Brandon to attended the Wheat Kings game that evening, ending his major junior and professional hockey career in the same community he launched it.
The Wheat Kings honoured Tootoo for his contributions and accomplishments at the Oct. 19 game.
Drafted 98th overall by the Nashville Predators in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Tootoo, 35, played 723 games in the world’s top league, amassing 65 goals, 96 assists, 161 points and 1,010 penalty minutes during a 13-year career that also saw stops in Detroit, New Jersey and Chicago.
In making his retirement announcement in Brandon, Tootoo said it was a very special day for him and his family.
He said it’s always special coming back to Brandon, and it all feels like it’s come full circle for him.
“I came to Brandon all those years ago and I didn’t think much of becoming a role model other than what am I going to do to get to the NHL?” said Tootoo.
“This community has embraced me and looked beyond Jordin Tootoo the hockey player.
“They didn’t judge me for how I played the game.
“And thank you to the city of Brandon who embraced my brother (Terence) and I.”
Tootoo thanked the NHL teams whose jerseys he’s worn and said it was difficult to describe his emotions as he looked back.
He said the camaraderie with the players and the connection with the fans at the NHL level is something you have to experience to believe.
“It has enriched my life beyond words.
“Most of all, to my wife, Jen, and to my two daughters, Siena and Avery, thank you.
“You have helped me see the real meaning of life, and you are my life.”
Tootoo told the gathering on-hand for his announcement that he was retiring with no regrets.
He said it’s been a great run, and now it’s time for him to move on to the next chapter of his life.
“I know I will always remain close to my Native roots, and will continue to work to enhance life for Native children who are suffering.
“I am deeply concerned about some of the challenges facing our Indigenous communities, especially teen suicide and untreated mental-health challenges.
“I want to work with communities to create awareness around mental health and to support suicide-prevention initiatives.
“This is a national problem. I want to speak with corporate Canada about creating a culture of inspired inclusivity.
“It is important today for companies to build better teams where everyone feels welcome and is accepted.”
Tootoo said he leaves the game at peace with himself, with the love of his family and memories that will last a lifetime.
He said he owes his life to the game of hockey.
“The city of Nashville embraced me when I arrived as a youngster grieving the loss of his big brother, Terence – it was David Poile (GM) and Barry Trotz (coach) who helped me realize I needed help with my alcoholism, Ken Holland (Detroit GM) who believed in me when I was early in my recovery, Lou Lamoriello (New Jersey GM) who brought me in and trusted me when it looked like my legs were slowing down, and Stan Bowman (Chicago GM) who showed nothing but class during my final year.
“To my parents (Rose and Barney) and my sister, Corrine, you gave me all that you had to give and I cherish you.
“And to the people of Rankin Inlet… my brother, Terence was my inspiration, both in life and in the afterlife. His final words to me were, ‘Jor, go all the way. Take care of the family. You are the man.’
“I can only hope I lived up to your expectations, bro, and, after 13 years, it’s time for me to retire from the NHL.
“It’s been a hell of a run.”