Kelowna’s Josh Gorges (left), played for the Montreal Canadians of the NHL for eight seasons before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2016. As captain of the Kelowna Rockets, he lead his hometown team to the Memorial Cup championship on home ice in 2004. —Image: Instagram

Josh Gorges announces his retirement after 13 years in the NHL

Kelowna’s Josh Gorges has announced his retirement from the NHL.

Gorges approached the podium with tears in his eyes during a press conference at Prospera Place as he officially announced his retirement from the NHL after a 13-year career with the San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadians and Buffalo Sabres.

Gorges said that September 2018 was the first time since he was three-years-old that he hadn’t packed up his hockey gear for a season.

“This (Kelowna) is where it all started for me. I had no where to go and wasn’t sure what was going to happen and he (Bruce Hamilton, owner and president of the Kelowna Rockets) gave me the opportunity,” said Gorges. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without this organization.”

Prior to the press conference at Prospera Place Jan. 14, Gorges made the announcement on his Instagram feed Monday, with a picture showing him in a Montreal uniform with Habs goalie Carey Price.

“Even though this is a sad day, I am extremely excited about the next chapter in my life and the opportunity to be back at home with my family,” wrote Gorges, a Kelowna Minor Hockey product, who played for, and captained, the Kelowna Rockets to two Memorial Cup appearances, winning the cup in 2004 on home ice.

“There are too many people to thank on here, but those of you who helped me along the way and helped me make my dreams come true, I am forever grateful.”

Passed over in the NHL draft after two seasons with the Rockets, Gorges, a defenceman, signed as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 20, 2002, but wouldn’t play in the NHL for three more years.

It was during that time that he lead Kelowna to the Memorial Cup win, was named the tournament’s most sportsmanlike player and also helped Canada win a silver medal at the World Junior Championship.

He scored his first goal as a pro Jan. 15, 2005, for Cleveland of the American Hockey League and was named the team’s top rookie in 2004-05.

Gorges made his NHL debut with the Sharks on Oct. 7, 2005, and was traded to Montreal two seasons later on Feb. 25, 2007. The Sharks sent Gorges and a 2007 first-round draft pick to the Habs for Craig Rivet and a 2008 fifth-round selection. The pick Montreal received with Gorges was used to draft future captain Max Pacioretty.

Eight seasons later, Montreal traded Gorges to Buffalo in 2014 for a second round pick in the 2016 draft.

He wraps up his NHL career having played 783 games, scoring 17 goals and adding 107 assists.

“I love the game of hockey and always will,” said Gorges in his retirement announcement.

“It has given me everything I have today, taught me to be a man, taught me valuable life lessons that I would not have gotten anywhere else.”

He described going to the rink knowing he was competing with and against the best hockey players in the world as one of the greatest feelings there is.

“So to all the teammates I got to play with, thank you for everything along the way, I will miss you the most.”

Gorges currently assists the coaches and players of the Kelowna Rockets and has not decided as to whether or not retirement means coming on as a full time coach. He says that he wants to focus on being home with his wife, Maggie and their two sons Noah and Jayden.

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