September 14, 2005

Veteran center Francis retires after 23 seasons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran center Ron Francis announced
on Wednesday he was retiring from the National Hockey League
after 23 seasons.

The 42-year-old Francis joins a number of veteran players
including New York Rangers center Mark Messier, St. Louis Blues
defenseman Al MacInnis and New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott
Stevens who have retired in recent weeks.

Francis, a four-time NHL All-Star, ranked second in career
assists behind Wayne Gretzky with 1,249 and tied for third in
games played with 1,731.

"As a kid growing up in the little city of Sault Ste.
Marie, Ontario, I dreamed of one day playing in the NHL, but
never did I expect it to be as much fun as it turned out to
be," Francis said in a statement.

He played with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins,
Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs during his long
career. He helped the Penguins win consecutive Stanley Cups in
1991 and 1992.