He climbed hockey’s highest mountain and while he only played in 29 NHL games, he still will have something to tell his grandchildren about someday with pride.
Samuel Morin, a defenseman who eventually transitioned into a left wing to reduce the wear and tear on his body, gave it all he had to stay in the sport he loved so much but a pair of devastating knee operations over the past few years proved too much to allow him to continue his Flyers career.
On Tuesday, general manager Chuck Fletcher made it official, stating the 26-year-old Quebec native’s career was over.
Knowing he worked as hard as he could to rehab his way back, Morin revealing on Thursday he has “no regrets’’ about his decision to call it quits.
During a media Zoom call from his home in Canada, Morin acknowledged he’s ready to move on from his playing career, although he might consider a hockey-related job at some point.
“I think in life, you have to look at yourself, look in the mirror every night before going to bed,’’ Morin said. “I think for myself, I gave it everything, absolutely everything. I played hurt for so long, I was really banged up. My knee was really bad, even last year, my meniscus was really banged up. It was torn. I just played hurt.’’
A 2013 first-round (11th overall) draft pick, Morin spent the majority of his career in the American Hockey League, playing a total of 177 games spread out over six seasons. Most of the time he was trying to get his health squared away enough to compete with the speed of the NHL.
Now the dream is over.
“This year before training camp, I kind of knew it was pretty bad,’’ he said. “I was telling myself it was going to be fine but around Christmas I went to (doctors) in New York and they told me to shut it down. My knee was really in bad condition.
“I’m not ashamed of myself at all. I have no regrets. I’m over that.’’
The 6-foot-6, 202-pound player offered a bruising style and no doubt that contributed to the unfortunate set of circumstances.
“It’s tough realizing it,’’ he said. “It was really hard to accept it. It’s been a couple months now so I feel way better about it.’’
With his experience, he certainly could get into coaching, player development or scouting if he so chooses.
“For me, I don’t know what’s next,’’ he said. “I want to stay in hockey. It’s something I need to kind of analyze this summer. I have to take my time.’’
Fletcher is looking out for Morin’s best interests and well he should. Morin gave the Flyers organization all he had and deserves a second chance in a non-playing role.
“I had a really good talk with Chuck,’’ Morin said. “I think he’s a really good person. He understands my situation. He respects my career, coming back from all those injuries. I’m sure I could help some young player in the minors. I’m going to see all my options but being with the Flyers would be awesome.’’
For the present time, Morin is just happy to be back home with his family in Quebec.
“I was away from my family for a long time, with COVID and all that stuff,’’ he said. “I’m back home right now – it’s been really good to see my parents and my sister. I really missed my family those years I was alone because I needed to be in Philly during COVID because I needed to work out. . .Quebec was still shut down. So right now my mental state is really good.’’
Having played defense nearly his entire career, Morin found it difficult to move up to forward.
“There were times I just wanted to quit everything,’’ he said. “This is not me, I want to be a D-man. I just stayed with it, kept doing what I was doing.’’
Ultimately, every player goes through the retirement process but usually on his own terms. That’s something Morin will have to come to grips with.
“My teammates know what I went through, I talk to them a lot,’’ he said. “I love going on the road trips, all that stuff in the locker room, joking around. This is something I’m going to miss a lot. I’ve been lucky to be with the Flyers because they’ve got some really good guys.’’
Even though he didn’t play many games, he was around the NHL for a long time. And he still has the puck from the only goal he scored, which he can show his future grandkids.
“I was always hurt but I was always there,’’ he said. “When I reflect on my career, I’m really proud of myself. I gave it all I had with all my heart.’’