Panthers goalie retires
NOTTINGHAM Panthers' well-advanced recruitment plans took a backward step today with goaltender Kevin St Pierre telling coach Corey Neilson he is not coming back next season.
The 35-year-old French-Canadian veteran is retiring from the game and staying in the USA after taking up a job offer from his father-in-law.
Kevin St Pierre
Pierre – one of the earliest to seal his return for 2010/11 -– was the first Panthers' goalie in four seasons to last the course and he finished the season with an overall save percentage of over 90%.
He led the way in the Challenge Cup (92.5%), which Panthers won, and was second best (94.6%) in the play-offs.
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The club has issued the following statement: "St Pierre was planning to return for a second season with the Panthers and right up until this week he was working on his helmet design and kit orders were being placed.
"But with reluctance he has told the club he will not be able to fulfil his commitment and instead will be taking up a chance to join a family business back home where his wife has also landed an important job."
"He said: "'I loved it in Nottingham, I had the best year of my career last season but the time has come for me to make the sacrifice and not my family.'"
General manager Gary Moran said today : "You can't be anything other than philosophical when these things happen.
"The good news is that coach Corey Neilson has plenty of time to sort out a netminder for the upcoming season. He still has a defenceman to sign so he can make adjustments if necessary as he begins his search for a new goalie.
"Of course we're all disappointed, not least the coach, but we wish Kevin well and thank him for his efforts throughout last season. He was a pleasure to work with and he was a professional throughout.
"The coach has already started work on finding a replacement for Kevin."
In an e-mail to Moran, St Pierre said: "I just wanted to thank you and the organisation for everything you have done for me and my family and the way you have treated us with high class."
And in what he called the hardest e-mail he has ever had to write he told coach Neilson: "I'm announcing to you my retirement. It has been the hardest decision in my life but at this point it's my only option and the right thing to do for me and my family.
"I'm really sorry…..but at this point it has to be done. I hope you understand. But with having kids, it's not always about you, it's about them.
"Heather has a great job and I can't ask her to quit another great job. It's my turn to make the sacrifice. She has done it for me the last 15 years.
"I want to thank you for the opportunity last year, it was the most fun I had in my career and I will never forget it. I am going to miss the game for sure. I wish you and the Panthers nothing but the best."