There are words in the life of an athlete that are scary. Retirement definitely comes at the top of the list. Just thinking about it sends shivers down the spine. This is the case of Paul Byron who, despite himself, will have to face the facts that his career is well and truly over.
Unable to fully recover from the injuries and hip operations that have punctuated his last seasons, the Franco-Ontarian has not been able to play a single game this winter.
“In my head, Of course I still want to play. On the other hand, with each passing day, I understand that it becomes more difficult. I really take the time to think about it to make an informed decision, ”launched the Franco-Ontarian, the first player to appear on the Canadian's end-of-season report.
By chatting with the 34-year-old striker, we understand that the decision has already been made. It's just that he's not ready to admit it yet.
“Every time I skate, it really hurts,” he said.
If this injury only harmed his life as a hockey player, it would be as such, although already frustrating. Except that the condition in which he finds himself has a negative impact on his everyday life, on his role as a father.
“I am 34 years old and sometimes I am not even able to walk for 30 or 45 minutes. Yesterday I went to the park with my children and it hurt me, ”he said.
Byron did not has not been spared from injuries during his career. As is sometimes the case with boxers who try to stretch the sauce too much, should he have bowed out before, when his quality of life was still decent?
“No, I've never had any regrets,” he said without hesitation. I was so lucky to have a career like that. If you give me a chance to do it again, I would do the same.
While he was living in the organization of the Flames, Byron certainly did not imagine playing 521 games in the NHL when the Canadiens claimed him on waivers on October 6, 2015.
The only regret may be never being able to grieve, put on your sweater and lace up your skates knowing that it's the last time.
“Nobody really decides the end of his career. It is rare that we have the choice of this decision, he wisely recognized. But, I never had a last moment. I find that difficult.
A coach at heart
While he refuses to utter the word retirement, Byron has still made sure to prepare for his future . While most of the injured players sat at one end of the catwalk, he watched the games with Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton.
“When Kent and Jeff asked to watch the games with them, I jumped at the chance. It allowed me to get to know them and see the matches in a different way. Besides, the new administration didn't know me. It was a way of introducing myself. »
Because if he has to face the facts and announce his retirement as a player, he wishes to remain in the environment he has known since he was very young.
< p>“I would imagine myself in the role of a development coach. It would make my transition easier. »