Winnipeg’s Travis Zajac has announced his official retirement from professional hockey following 15 seasons and over 1,000 career regular season games.
Drafted 20th overall by the Devils in 2004, the now 36-year-old spent roughly 98 percent of his NHL career in Newark, suiting up in 1,108 total games for the franchise. This past trade deadline, the Devils moved Zajac to the New York Islanders in hopes of helping the veteran forward earn a Stanley Cup. The cards didn’t quite stack up as planned, but he did add another 14 playoff games to his resume with the Isles.
Zajac opted to sign a one-day contract with New Jersey to retire as a member of the team to which he dressed in 1,081 games. Now having officially called it a career, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward will join the Devils’ staff in a player development and consulting role, while also assisting in New Jersey’s youth hockey initiatives.
“Everyone in the NHL appreciates that Travis Zajac’s work ethic and style of play were reflective of the New Jersey Devils,” Devils’ Vice President and general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. “His training, discipline and focus rubbed off on every player who walked into that locker room over his 15-year career. I look forward to Travis working with our organization, on his terms and his timeline, in a manner that influences future Devils in the same manner when he played. We are ecstatic to know we will see the Zajac family around the Prudential Center rinks for years to come.”
Zajac retires with 203 goals, 552 points and 344 penalty minutes to his name through 1,037 regular season contests. He added another 12 goals, 30 points and 26 penalty minutes in 71 postseason games. He served as a team captain with New Jersey for seven seasons.
“During his 15-year NHL career, Travis Zajac’s consistent preparation, commitment and performance epitomized what it meant to be a New Jersey Devil,” Devils’ managing partner David Blitzer said. “Win or lose, Travis’ teammates, coaches and fans could always count on him to play the right way. I am thrilled that Travis, his wife Nicole and their children will continue to make New Jersey their home, and they will be a valued part of the Devils organization moving forward.”
In conjunction with his retirement announcement, Zajac also released the following statement:
“I was drafted in 2004 and played my first game in 2006. As I stand here nearing the end of 2021, I can only be grateful to sign one last time, and retire as a New Jersey Devil.
As a kid playing hockey on the outdoor rinks in Winnipeg, I dreamt about playing in the NHL. Growing up the oldest of four boys, it was the perfect hockey environment. Thanks to my parents unwavering support in our lives, that dream became a reality. Then, I got to live that childhood goal for 15 years with the Devils.
I want to thank the New Jersey Devils organization for giving me the opportunity to play in the best league in the world. To the past and present ownership, managing partners, managers, coaches, and trainers, your hard work has not gone unnoticed-thank you. And thanks also to my agent, Kurt Overhardt, for always believing in me.
I have to acknowledge all my teammates who helped me throughout my career. I will cherish all the memories made and I hope that I’ve impacted your life the way you’ve positively impacted mine.
Now, to the fans, you are the reason this game is so special, and I leave the game knowing I enjoyed every moment I got to play in front of you.
Lastly, I want to thank my beautiful wife Nicole and our kids Zenon, Veronika, and Anya. We have deep roots in New Jersey now. My wife went to graduate school at Montclair State, our three children, were born in Jersey and raised right here in this rink at Prudential Center. They know no other home and no other community like the Devils. It’s now time for me to embed myself into this same community where I grew into adulthood. It is where my heart is, my home, and I’ve never felt otherwise.
Born in Winnipeg, Made in Jersey.”
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Travis was not able to be acknowledged by Devils fans at the Prudential Center for his 1,000th career NHL game, so the Devils organization will recognize Zajac during the March 10, 2022, game versus his hometown Winnipeg Jets.