Mann hangs up his skates as he leaves Panthers
FORMER NHL winger Cameron Mann has called time on his 12-year professional playing career and will not be returning to Nottingham Panthers.
Mann – who played almost 100 times for Boston Bruins in the world's top league – flies home to Ontario, Canada, with his family tomorrow after helping Panthers win the Challenge Cup, finish third in the Elite League and reach the play-off finals last weekend.
And for a man who has seen it all at the highest level, the 32-year-old was full of praise for British ice hockey and Panthers in particular after just one season in this country.
"I was lucky to be part of this team in a competitive league," he said. "The dressing room was great, they are an awesome bunch of guys.
"Looking back at the season, one out of three trophies ain't bad but I know finishing top after the regular season is the big one for the club and we're sorry we just didn't manage that.
"To go out in the play-offs was a sad end to my career. Penalty shots is a tough way to lose. But it's a crap-shoot and we came out on the wrong end of it."
Mann had planned this would be his final season after he started out being drafted in 1995, playing his first NHL game three years later.
"Coming to Nottingham has been a great experience for me and my family," he said. "But we decided beforehand that this would be my last year.
"It's a great city and it was good to be involved with a team with the history of Panthers. They are the best in the league.
"I didn't know what to expect when I came over. I'd spoken to a couple of players who had been to the UK who told me all about it and the level of play is good. There are some very excellent players over here and a good level of British guys, too.
"But in a minor league hockey set-up, it's often difficult to develop the kids who find it tough to break into the senior teams."
Mann says he will still stay connected to the game, probably as a coach.
"I plan to go to school and when that's finished I'll take it from there," he said.
"But I can't just turn my back on hockey. I'd like to be a coach, starting with the kids perhaps. We'll see what works out. I'd just like to wish everyone well in Nottingham and thank the fans for the welcome they gave me and my family."