The Toronto Maple Leafs announced this morning that Jason Spezza, the second overall pick in 2001, has retired from the NHL after 19 seasons. Spezza will immediately join the Leafs front office as a “special assistant to the GM.”

Spezza played 1248 regular season games for the Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, and Ottawa Senators throughout his career, scoring 363 goals (117 power play goals), 632 assists, for 995 career points. In three seasons with the Leafs, Spezza took league minimum deals to anchor the fourth line center and second power play. He was a critical scorer (31 goals), faceoff center, and voice for the young team. All I can say at this point is I’m sorry to Jason for not winning him a Stanley Cup at the end of his career. I hope he gets a ring in the front office.

Statement from Jason Spezza:

“I love hockey. Since the age of three, I’ve been lucky enough to live out my dream and do what I love for so many years,” said Spezza. “I eat, sleep, dream hockey and it’s always been there for me. There are too many people to thank individually but I’m forever grateful and indebted to the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs and Hockey Canada for their support and belief in me as a player and person. To my teammates, coaches, support staff, trainers and equipment staff - a heartful thank you for everything. Through countless hours at the rink - whether on the ice or with those behind the scenes - I have been so fortunate to have forged friendships for life.

Hockey has been my life’s work and to be able to come home to Toronto and bookend my playing career where it started was incredible. To the fans - in Ottawa, Dallas, Toronto and across the league - your impact on the game is immeasurable. I’ll never be able to replicate that feeling of stepping onto the ice to the roar of the crowd, but it is something I’ll always remember. Thank you.

Looking forward, I’m very grateful to the Leafs for the amazing opportunity to transition into this new role. It enables me to continue to follow my passion; learn and live new experiences within the game I love.

Lastly, none of this happens without the unwavering support of my parents, siblings, wife, and kids. You have always been my cornerstone.”

Statement from Kyle Dubas:

“It is difficult to describe just how much of a lasting and positive impact that Jason Spezza made in his three seasons with the Maple Leafs,” said General Manager Kyle Dubas. “Jason’s passion for the game of hockey, his desire to continuously push himself and his teammates to improve, as well as his capacity to make strong connections with all members of the organization, have been invaluable. Though today marks the end of his tenure with us as a player, it is a pleasure to have him join our front office to impart all that he has to offer.”

Here is the full press conference with Spezza and Dubas from today.