After nearly a full year without playing professional hockey, only with appearances captaining Team USA at the 2018 Olympics and a short stint in Boston shortly thereafter, Brian Gionta today announced in Buffalo that he would be retiring from hockey and joining the Sabres in a non-playing role, ending a nearly 20-year pro career at age 39.
Gionta, a standout at Boston College, joined the New Jersey Devils in 2001 after being a 1998 third round pick of theirs, winning the Stanley Cup in just his second season. Gionta would spend seven seasons with the Devils, making the playoffs each season, before signing with Montréal in 2009, where he would be named team captain just a year after his arrival. He led the Canadiens to the playoffs in all but one of his five seasons there, before the Rochester, NY native signed in 2014 with the Buffalo Sabres, immediately being named captain. Gionta would spend three seasons with the Sabres before becoming a free agent, signed only as a playoff rental by Boston for a few months after his 2018 Olympic appearance.
Gionta first joined Team USA at the 1998 World Juniors, suiting up again in 1999 before joining the senior team for the 2000 World Championship. Gionta would only play at three Worlds (2000, 2001, 2005) and the 2006 Olympics in his heyday, as his repeat playoff presences with the Devils and Canadiens hampered his attendance at the World Championships. However, unsigned following his third season in Buffalo, Gionta was called upon to lead the Americans at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, captaining a team far younger and more inexperienced than him in his final appearance for the red, white and blue.
Over his twenty year career on Team USA, Gionta only held the IHLC on three occasions: at the 1998 World Juniors, and twice in the 2004-05 NHL lockout season, both at the Deutschland Cup and just prior to the 2005 World Championship. We wish Brian and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!