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Aleksey Morozov retires

The Pittsburgh Penguins first round pick in 1995 played his entire NHL career as a Penguin, but it didn't incorporate nearly all of his hockey career.

Martin Rose

Former Pittsburgh Penguin Aleksey Morozov has retired, after a long and fruitful career in hockey.

Former Russian national team forward Alexei Morozov hangs up his skates. He announced his retirement on Sunday.

Most recently the 37-year-old played for CSKA Moscow where his contract was terminated during the off-season after an injury-plagued first year below the expectations.

“I took the decision for myself some time ago on vacation. I already had the decision in my head and can now announce it: I decided to end my career as a hockey player,” Morozov told R-Sport. “It’s a deliberate decision. I don’t want to move from club to club, running and looking for something. I have never done that in my career and don’t want to do that now. Therefore I decided that it would be better for me to end my career.”

Morozov came over to the Penguins in the fall of 1997 and remained with the team until the 2004 lockout. He went from first round pick to fresh-faced youngster all the way to alternate captain and second leading scorer on one of the worst Pens teams ever in 2003-04.

The lockout of 2004-05 came and went, but Morozov never would return to North American to continue his career, instead choosing to stay with AK Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague slash KHL. He was a very successful player, winning the championship 3 times in 2006, 2009 and 2010 and playoff MVP the first two occasions. Morozov was also league MVP and scoring champion in 2007 and the captain of the Russian national team at the 2010 Olympics.

All in all, it was a great run for Morozov, and given the lack of skilled wingers that the Penguins have dealt with since the very beginning of the Sidney Crosby / Evgeni Malkin era, it would have been very interesting to imagine an alternate scenario where Morozov returned to the NHL. Alas, it wasn't to be, but Morozov probably got a better finish to his career with the path that he took anyways.