The 2013 season was a very up-and-down one for the Buffalo Sabres, and shortly after the final game had been played one of the team’s veteran forwards announced his retirement. After 14 seasons in the NHL, Jochen Hecht has decided to call it a career. The center leaves the league as one of the most successful German-born players in history, and while his production has tapered off the past few seasons, he leaves some good memories with a Sabres team that he was with for 10 seasons.
Hecht was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 1995, and first made it to the NHL during the 1998-99 season. In two full seasons with the Blues he scored 32 goals, before playing one season with the Edmonton Oilers. From 1999 to 2011, he scored at least 10 goals per season, with a career-high of 22 during the 2007-08 season. He played in 47 of the Sabres’ 48 games this season, scoring five goals and adding nine assists. The Sabres gave him a chance to go out on a high note, as he took the final shootout attempt in a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Apr. 26.
Hecht cited family reasons and a desire to return to Germany when announcing his retirement. Considering the close ties he has maintained there, that should come as little surprise. During the last two lockouts, Hecht has returned home to play for the Mannheim Eagles, and he leaves the NHL with the fourth-most points among his countrymen. He also ranks third for most games played by a German-born player (833), and his totals in goals (186) and points (463) show how consistent he was throughout his career.