Rangers’ Blake Wheeler mulling retirement

When Blake Wheeler came to the Rangers on a one-year deal last summer, he did so to give himself a chance to win a Stanley Cup at the age of 37.

Now the question facing Wheeler is whether to run it back for another shot. He doesn’t yet know the answer.

“I have three kids: an 11-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old. The 11-year-old’s gonna be in middle school next year,” Wheeler said at Rangers breakup day Tuesday. “When you come to make those decisions now, I still love the game, still love to play, but I want to be around for their childhood, too, so I think those are the things you weigh.”

Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler #17, during practice at the Rangers practice facility in Tarrytown, New York.
Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler #17, during practice at the Rangers practice facility in Tarrytown, New York. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

This is the first time Wheeler — a 17-year vet who’s never played in a Cup Final — has truly started to think through the decision in front of him, with most of the last three months dedicated to rehabbing a right-leg injury suffered on Feb. 15.

Wheeler returned to make one playoff appearance in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, which the Rangers lost, but was otherwise on the sideline for the team’s run to the third round.

The injury, he said, would not factor much into a decision on playing next year.

“If anything, coming back from that, it kinda relit the fire a little bit,” Wheeler said. “The sense of purpose and getting back out there, you were able to kinda refind the love for it. It’s a grind, but when you’re trying to fight to come back, you lose it a little bit, you lose being out there with the guys. You realize how much you love it.”

Prior to the injury, Wheeler scored nine goals with 12 assists.

He wasn’t sure when he will make a decision on his future, though he did say his kids would likely be kept out of the discussion “because they’re gonna want me to keep playing.”

It will be a conversation between Wheeler and his wife, Sam, and a group decision on whether to pursue the Cup for another season.

“I think it’s different when you’re sort of on a longer contract or you still have term, it’s hard to think about that,” Wheeler said. “But I think now, obviously not having that, it changes how you think a little bit. Every year I continue to play, my kids get older and older. Those are where you start thinking a little bit.”

If he chooses to retire, Wheeler made clear he is content with his career.

“I’ve given this game everything I have and that’s how I evaluate it,” he said. “That gives me everything that I need to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. Certainly the ultimate goal, never reached that. It’s the day-to-day stuff, that’s really how you can evaluate your career. Every day, I try to be my best.”

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