Philly Sports Live

Hal Gill, shot blocking ace, announces retirement from the NHL (Puck Daddy)

After Hall Gill blocked an absurd blast by Sheldon Souray in the final minutes of the second-to-last game of the 2011-12 season for the Nashville Predators he was asked by a reporter how he felt. “You ever block a shot? It hurts,” Gill replied.  The moment was unintentionally hilarious, but it was Gill through and through. He didn’t have to talk to the media, but he did, regardless of if he had suffered a devastating injury right before. It ended up being a major moment near the end of Gill’s career. The shot fractured the then 36-year-old Gill’s tibia, he had surgery and he never was the same afterwards. The joke was that the slow-footed Gill couldn’t possibly get slower. But he was doomed in the rapidly changing world of speed and puck possession. The Boston area native announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 seasons via an NHLPA media release Thursday. In spite of this unceremonious end for Gill, which included a buyout by the Preds and a stint in Philadelphia where he watched most of the 2013-14 season from the press box, he carved an incredible career for a guy who was supposedly too slow to compete in the NHL post 2004-05 lockout. He played 1,108 games in the league, scored 36 goals and had 184 points. He was drafted in the eighth round in 1993 by the Boston Bruins, and played for them, the Maple Leafs, the Penguins, the Canadiens, Predators and Flyers. His highest goal total in a season was six. His highest point total was 22. But that wasn’t the reason teams employed Gill. He was an incredible shot blocker, and on the penalty kill the 6-foot-7 Gill would use his long legs and condor-like wingspan to take away all passing lanes. Gill on the penalty kill (no rhyme intended) was a sight to see for hockey geeks.