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Top 15 Hockey Players Who Retired Too Soon

The career of a professional athlete is relatively short when compared with that of many other professions. The average NHL player's career lasts less than six seasons. With all of the fame and fortune of playing a major league sport comes the realization that some day it will all come to an end. That's why some players try to make as much money as they possibly can while they're playing and many continue playing long after they're able to contribute.

A lot of players retire due to old age or because they simply aren't good enough, but many players have chosen to leave the game for a variety of other reasons. Robin Sadler retired one week into his first NHL training camp because he didn't want to deal with the pressure. Randy Gregg played 10 seasons in the NHL and was a member of four Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup winning teams, then traded in his hockey skates for a medical degree. Fred Arthur did the same after just 80 NHL games. Todd Bergen decided to pursue a career in pro golf rather than put up with the demands of coach Mike Keenan. Tom Edur, a converted Jehovah's Witness, didn't like the lifestyle and retired to devout himself to God. During World War II many players retired to serve their country.

A large number of players have retired young for one very simple reason: they had no other choice. Sometimes the injuries take such a tole on a player's body, or in the case of concussions, his mind, that he has to leave the game he loves behind. This list is made up of players who retired early for a variety of reasons, either injury, outside commitments, or to pursue a greater passion. Here are the top 15 hockey players who retired too soon:

15 15. Bill Nyrop

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14 14. Adam Deadmarsh

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13 13. Vladimir Konstantinov

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12 12. Mario Tremblay

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11 11. Carl Brewer

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The legendary Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman joined the Leafs in 1958 and helped them to three consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1962-1964. Brewer's first of many retirements came following the 1959-60 season at the age of 21. Unhappy over money he was owed for medical expenses, Brewer announced he was retiring to play football at McMaster University. The Leafs convinced him to change his mind and he returned the following season.

10 10. Gordie Drillon

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9 9. Syl Apps

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8 8. Paul Reinhart 

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7 7. Cam Neely

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6 6. Pat LaFontaine

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5 5. Pavel Bure

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4 4. Mike Bossy

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3 3. Ken Dryden

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2 2. Mario Lemieux

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Lemieux made an immediate impact in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring on his first shift of his first game after stealing the puck from Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. He won the Calder Trophy in 1984 as the third rookie to reach the 100 point plateau. On New Year's Eve 1988, in the midst of an 85 goal and 114 assist season, Lemieux scored five goals, five different ways. Despite battles with back injuries and Hodgkin's disease, Lemieux won the scoring title six times and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 1991 and 1992 . Following the 1997 playoffs, Lemieux retired at the age of 31 and was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

1 1. Bobby Orr

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Bobby Orr is considered by many to be the greatest player to ever play the game. He revolutionized the position of defense, becoming a dominant force at both ends of the rink. Orr played parts of ten seasons with the Boston Bruins and led them to two Stanley Cup victories. Orr won the Calder Trophy 1967 and won the Norris Trophy in each of the eight seasons that followed. Orr became the first defenseman to reach the 30 and 40 goal plateaus and is the only defenseman in history to win the NHL scoring title, accomplishing the feat in the 1969-70 and 1974-75 seasons. Knee injuries limited Orr to ten games during his final season in Boston, after which he joined the Chicago Blackhawks. Orr would only play 26 games for the Blackhawks over parts of three seasons - none in 1977-78 - before retiring at the age of 30. Orr was the most dominant defenseman the game has ever known  and was brought down by knee injuries in the prime of his career, making him the number one hockey player who retired too soon.

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Top 15 Hockey Players Who Retired Too Soon