Michael Del Zotto has announced his retirement from professional hockey after 13 seasons in the National Hockey League. Del Zotto had been selected No. 20 overall in the 2008 NHL Draft, making his debut in 2009 when he stepped onto the ice with the New York Rangers at the age of 19. At that time, he was the youngest defenseman in the team’s history to do so. Del Zotto would later go on to be named to the 2010 NHL All-Rookie Team after earning 37 points (9 goals, 28 assists) in 80 games during his rookie year. He would spend a total of five seasons with the Rangers and played a role in assisting the Rangers with reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2011-2012.
Throughout his professional hockey career, Del Zotto appeared in 736 games with the Rangers, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Ottawa Senators. He scored 63 goals and had 199 assists for 262 points. He had 1,038 blocked shots along with 1,672 hits during that time. He would later be part of the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup-winning roster.
His professional hockey accomplishments aside, Del Zotto has demonstrated a love for helping others and has taken part in several charitable initiatives during his time in the NHL. In April 2019, he joined Coast to Coast & Childhood Cancer Canada in an official capacity as its first Celebrity Champion and participated in a 200 km charity bike ride. He has continued to be a supporter and volunteer for several causes, several aimed at helping children with cancer, including Ronald McDonald House and BC Children’s Hospital. Del Zotto said, “Having the opportunity to make a positive impact on others and give back to the community was the most rewarding part of my career. It is a role I will continue to cherish”.
Del Zotto stated on his Instagram announcement that he is truly grateful for the relationships he has built with fans, staff, and teammates throughout his career but added, “Some of the most meaningful were the ones I shared with the kids I met at Ronald McDonald house during my time in Vancouver and those with the Garden of Dreams during my time in New York, especially Liam and Taylor.” Del Zotto had met Liam Traynor, a young die-hard fan with cerebral palsy, through the Garden of Dreams Foundation early in his career and had kept in touch with Liam over the years.
“Spending 14 years in a pressure-packed and heavily scrutinized job feels like a lifetime in itself, one with plenty of highs and lows. I am proud of the life lessons I learned along the way. I have made many mistakes and have learned from them all. I never wanted to be just known as a hockey player. I want to be known as Michael Del Zotto, period. I am proud of who I have become today”.– Del Zotto [Instagram @mdzofficial]