After much speculation following his failure to make the Pittsburgh Penguins roster for this season, veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar today announced he is joining the Penguins as a defensive development coach, ending his illustrious 20 year playing career.
Gonchar, who spent three seasons in the Soviet League before being drafted by Washington in 1992, broke into the league in 1995, spending 10 seasons with the Capitals and becoming the first Russian defender to score over 20 goals in a regular season. After a brief stint in Boston and in Russia for the 2004-05 NHL Lockout, Gonchar rejoined the league with Pittsburgh, spending five seasons with the Pens, including his only Stanley Cup win in 2009. Gonchar ended his career with short stints in Ottawa, Dallas and Montréal, ending his career as a five-time All Star.
Internationally, Gonchar was a mainstay on the Russian blueline since his debut at the 1993 World Juniors, playing for the Russians in three World Championships, both World Cups of Hockey, and four Olympic tournaments. Gonchar retires with a handful of medals, with a pair of silvers (from the 1998 Olympics and 2010 World Championships) and a pair of bronzes (from the 2002 Olympics and 2007 Worlds).
Gonchar first held the IHLC as part of the Russian squad that entered the 1996 World Cup with the title, surprisingly only winning the title twice more, at the 1998 and 2006 Olympics, respectively. We wish Sergei and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!