Hutton retires from the NHL | Local Sports

Opportunities are what you make of them and Carter Hutton certainly made the most of his.

Now it will be the time for Hutton to sit back and reflect on each of them as the 36-year-old goaltender has opted to retire, which sees his decade-long National Hockey League career come to a close.

Featuring NHL stops with the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabers and Arizona Coyotes, the Thunder Bay-born Hutton feels the moment was right to hang up the pads.

“Honestly, I’ve been preparing myself for hockey to be over in some aspect for a while,” said Hutton when discussing his pronouncement.

“The NHL has evolved into a young man’s league. The average age in the league is now in the early 20s, so I knew that this job wouldn’t be a lifelong one for me. ”

Hutton finished his NHL career with 235 regular season games played (206 started) with a 94-90-27 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. His last appearance in the league came as a member of the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 25, 2021 in Florida against the Panthers. Hutton stopped 10 of 11 shots in the first period before leaving the game due to injury.

The wear and tear of competing at the highest level eventually takes its toll on everyone, at various stages, and it was no different for the affable Hutton.

“Ultimately, I suffered an ankle injury in early 2021, which made the decision a lot easier for me. It restricted a lot of the mobility I needed to be as effective as I once was. This, compiled with a few other things helped me decide on retirement, ”he said.

However, what a run it was for the netminder, who took advantage of every chance he was given.

That initial one came midway through the 2004-05 Superior International Junior Hockey League season when he was manning the nets for an average local Golden Hawks side and Fort William North Stars general manager, the legendary Gary Cook, saw something in him that he liked and made a deal to acquire him.

Hutton immediately showed Cook’s assessment was indeed accurate and his astuteness paid immediate dividends as his new goalkeeper went 10-0-0 to wrap-up the regular season while sporting a stingy 1.30 goals-against average, along with two shutouts.

Tack on three more triumphs in the postseason, and his efforts helped his new club win the SIJHL’s Bill Salonen Cup championship.

Taking over as the No. 1 goaltender in 2005-06, Hutton was again brilliant, going 33-1-0 with a crisp 1.84 GAA and a save mark of .926, while posting a league record 10 shutouts, which still stands today. Hutton was also rightfully was named the SIJHL’s top goaltender award recipient for his efforts. Add on another seven wins in the playoffs and Fort William ruled the SIJHL once again.

Another occasion to prove his worth came as the North Stars hosted the 2006 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian junior A tournament at Fort William Gardens.

Advancing to the final against high-scoring NOJHL champion Sudbury Northern Wolves, Hutton held his team in it long enough before they eventually won in overtime to punch their ticket to the Royal Bank Cup nationals in southern Ontario.

Reflecting on that, he feels his time in Jr. A was a key moment that aided in his next move up the hockey ladder.

“The SIJHL was a great learning experience for me and a place I really grew as a person and goalie,” Hutton recalled.

At the RBC Cup in Brampton, Ont., Fort William certainly held their own, advancing all the way to the semifinals, where they dropped a heart-breaking 3-2 decision in extra time to the eventual champion, the Burnaby Express.

“That North Stars team and staff is still very important to me and I am forever grateful for that final season. We won the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, 7-6 in OT, and I always say that if we were to lose that game, I don’t believe I would have had the same opportunity to play in the NCAA, ”he said.

Off his tremendous campaign, what came next for him was a late offer to attend the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, in the US collegiate Division I ranks, where yet another challenge awaited.

Next week: Part II on Carter Hutton’s unheralded rise to the NHL.

Tom Annelin’s column appears weekly in The Chronicle-Journal. Contact Tom at tommyhockey@tbaytel.net.

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