Being a pro athlete is a great life with so many perks: the incredible wealth, opportunities, fame, free stuff, travel, big vacation time, and large numbers of beautiful people who want to date you. Let’s not forget the joy of actually playing the game and the strong bonds formed with teammates. These people often feel closer than family. Think of the countless hours shared in dressing rooms, practices, meetings, workouts, travel, restaurants, recreation and, of course, the excitement of the battle.
It’s never easy for any professional athlete to accept that all these things are over. But that’s where former Ottawa Senators’ defenceman Marc Methot finds himself today: a player with a young family, a chronic knee issue and, age-wise, not a lot of race track left.
“I haven’t made any final or official announcement, but it’s looking like I’m probably done playing hockey,” Methot told TSN 1200 this week. “I really tried to make an effort and get back and I just weighed the options and whether it’s worth putting my body through that kind of mental and physical exertion and it’s just not worth it. I haven’t made anything official but I think I’m at a point now where I’m deciding it’s probably best for myself and the family that I step back from the game.”
Methot turns 35 in June. In life, that barely qualifies as middle-aged but, in the NHL, that’s generally the end of the road. Case in point, there are only 21 current NHL players older than 35, so Methot’s bad knee probably didn’t take away that much of his NHL future. The knee did slow him down in Dallas, where he played only 45 games total in two seasons.
“At the start of (2017-18), I had a funny injury with my left knee,” Methot remembers. “We think it was from impact, maybe a shot or something, and I lost a little chunk of bone under my knee cap on the femur and lost some cartilage as well. So I was battling with that for a long while and bone healing takes forever.”
Methot would play only 36 games that season but felt optimistic (entering the final year of his contract in Dallas) that he could be effective and stay healthy. But things only got worse. Methot appeared in just nine games for the Stars last season before undergoing season-ending surgery. The knee is still giving him pain today, spurring on this decision, even as teams showed interest.
“I was snowboarding with my wife yesterday at Camp Fortune,” said Methot. “Today I feel like I could eat an entire bottle of Advil, just feeling it in that left knee.”
Methot never wanted to leave Ottawa. During his five seasons here, Methot established himself as a solid, physical, shut-down NHL defenceman. He was the perfect wingman for the uber-talented, unpredictable Erik Karlsson; the Goose to EK’s Maverick. But the Sens faced some hard decisions in 2017, having to decide which 11 players they would protect in the 2017 Vegas Golden Knights’ NHL expansion draft. Methot didn’t make that list of 11 (only 2 of those players protected are still with Ottawa today). A player of Methot’s calibre stood out like a sore thumb on Ottawa’s list, leaving Vegas with an easy choice.
“It was a tough situation for me at the time,” recalls Methot. “We had had such a successful season with Ottawa. I’m from here. You know what it’s like when you’re winning in this city. Everyone’s on board. Everyone’s positive. All of sudden, you kind of get hung out there. Understandably so, with the situation on D that we had. And then I get picked up by Vegas. I was just angry, more or less, but I eventually got over that.”
Methot’s irritation soon returned when he began to hear that Vegas was trying to trade him. Being made “available” by two NHL teams in a matter of days doesn’t exactly make a player feel wanted.
“That added a little more frustration to my already frustrating situation. Finally, one night I was out at the Keg with my wife and family and (Stars’ GM Jim Nill) called me to let me know that they had picked me up. I was ecstatic because you think, ‘I’m avoiding going to an expansion team.’ Although Vegas is a really cool city, I do want to win hockey games and I thought, at the time, ‘Okay, Dallas is great. They’re deep and they’ll go really far.’ Sure enough, and it’s funny how things work out, we barely missed the playoffs (in Dallas) and Vegas went to the Cup final.”
The former Ottawa Sting and Kanata Valley Laser always seemed to find himself with something to prove. He was only a sixth-round pick in the OHL draft, yet emerged as a key component on the London Knights, who took out both Brian Kilrea’s Ottawa 67’s and Sidney Crosby’s Rimouski Oceanic to win the 2005 Memorial Cup. Methot was then a sixth-rounder again in the NHL draft but went on to play 624 games in the league, including that magical playoff run Ottawa had in the spring of 2017.
If this is truly the end, Methot has had a fine hockey career to look back on; one to be proud of.