After announcing his retirement as a player Wednesday to accept a job as Player Development Director with the Nashville Predators, former St. Louis Blues center Scott Nichol had many more fond memories than regrets.
"I'm 38 years old and I was a fourth-line player that takes pride in being in the top of the league in faceoffs and penalty kill," said Nichol, who was able to keep himself among the leaders in both categories during a 13-year NHL career that began in 1995-96 with the Buffalo Sabres.
"I pretty much squeezed every ounce of ability out of this body and I loved my time in the NHL and cherished every single day of it, because I started in the AHL for seven years."
Nichol praised the Blues and General Manager Doug Armstrong for allowing himself and fellow veteran Jamie Langenbrunner to bring their young boys along on a late-season road trip to Colorado.
"That's something we'll always look back on and cherish and remember," said Nichol, who had 9-year-old son Hayden and 8-year-old son Foster along for the ride. "My little guys will hopefully remember what it's like to be in the NHL, hanging out with (Chris) Stewart and (T.J.) Oshie and (David) Backes, just being one of the guys.
"They ate that up and it was fantastic. They flew with us, stayed in my room, watched movies and had steak for dinner, room service. ... The whole nine yards. It was such a great class act on behalf of Doug Armstrong and the Blues organization."
Nichol spent the past two seasons with the Blues after signing with the franchise in July 2011 as a free agent. He had four goals and nine points in 110 games and the final portion of his Blues tenure was marked first with injury, then watching younger players fill the fourth-line role where he once excelled.
Nichol -- an 11th-round pick by the Sabres in 1993 -- finished his career with 56 goals, 127 points and 916 penalty minutes in 662 games with the Blues, San Jose, Nashville, Chicago, Calgary and Buffalo.
"At some point, your body just says 'that's enough,''' said Nichol, who has had ACL surgery on both knees and surgery on both shoulders to repair torn labrums. "It's the wear and tear of the body and that was the deciding factor. If I could stay healthy I'd play another year, but there's not many injuries left I haven't already sustained."
Nichol did not play in the Blues' final 14 regular-season games or during the playoffs. The fourth line morphed into an effective unit dubbed the "CPR Line" with Chris Porter centering Adam Cracknell and Ryan Reaves.
Nichol now will have direct input into Nashville's ability to bring its young talent and draft picks along to the NHL. He knows plenty about the minor leagues after seven years as an AHL player.
"Nashville came to me at the end of the year and it seemed like a pretty good opportunity with learning from (Nashville GM) David Poile and their hockey operations group, plus staying in the game and being able to give something back," said Nichol, who spent four seasons with the Predators from 2005-09.
"Hopefully I can win the Stanley Cup on the management side," he said. "I get to help out the young guys and talk from my heart. I've pretty much gone through everything in my career from injuries to not making it and being in the minors so long, then making it.
"I know what it takes to get to the NHL and how to have a long career in the NHL."