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Former Wing Brian Rafalski discusses the pratfalls of a professional athlete’s lifestyle

When Brian Rafalski retired from the Detroit Red Wings in 2011, leaving $6 million in salary on the table, he stated that a religious calling played a large role in his decision-making process. Rafalski made a short comeback with the ECHL's Florida Everblades this past season.

The Fort Myers (Florida) News-Press's Craig Handel reports that Rafalski, who now coaches youth hockey near Naples, Florida, shared some of the reasons that he's hung up his skates for good while speaking at the News-Press's All-Stars Banquet:

“Much of what marketing and media show fans is exclusively the good,” the Sanibel resident said. “Much of the bad is glossed over and ignored. Image takes precedence. Then we’re shocked when athletes make mistakes in their public and professional lives.”

Rafalski starred in the NHL despite being a 5-foot-10 defenseman who didn’t make the pros until age 26. He had to play a year in Sweden.

However, those weren’t his biggest obstacles or trials and tribulations. Without going into specifics, Rafalski talked about being the prodigal son who drifted and indulged in things he should have avoided.

“I failed as a husband and father,” he said. “If I continued on this course, I’d lose my family.”

In sharing why he’d admit his mistakes in front of a room full of strangers, he said, “That’s life – if we’re honest with ourselves. It’s not through joy I do that. It’s very humbling. It’s not something I enjoy but it’s something that’s part of my life and will affect how my life will be in the future.”

Handel continues, and wherever Rafalski's calling takes him, I hope he's found a happier and more fulfilling path.

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Bugsy's avatar

Sounds like he got his priorities straight and his act together before it was too late. Good for him.

Posted by Bugsy on 05/21/14 at 08:27 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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