Like his fellow players, Adrian Aucoin is worried that the season may be canceled. But for Aucoin, it won’t be just a missing a season, it could mean the end of his career.
Aucoin signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent back in July, taking a one-year, $2 million contract. His job was to be a mentor to the younger players in the locker room and he was looking forward to that. But as this lockout has dragged on, the thought of retirement has slowly settled on the 39-year-old defenseman.
“Like it or not, I have to think about it,” Aucoin told the Columbus Dispatch this weekend. “In a perfect world, I’d play forever.”
Aucoin is one of many who may have seen his last season in the NHL. Most notable is Teemu Selanne, who has publicly stated that if the season is canceled, he’ll most likely retire. Aucoin knows he could retire as a Blue Jacket without ever wearing the team’s jersey.
What’s worse is that he was not only looking forward to the mentoring but simply playing for the Blue Jackets. He’d already uprooted his wife and five children from Arizona and moved them to Columbus. He made that huge step after talking to former Blue Jackets players such as Freddy Modin and Ray Whitney who gave him positive feedback about their experiences. It’s hardest for his kids, because they’ve quickly become attached to the city.
“My 10-year-old plays hockey, so he has a team and a set of friends,” Aucoin said. “His buddies know I’m on the Blue Jackets and they want to see me play, and they ask me when the lockout is going to end.”
For Aucoin, who’s on the NHLPA’s negotiating committee, that’s a question that has no easy answer. Even if it’s answered, he’ll still have that bigger question to face.