Chilliwack native and ex-Chilliwack Bruin Jesse Pauls has retired from hockey.
The Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals issued a news release Jan. 4 in which the 19-year-old called it quits. Pauls informed Royals general manager and head coach Marc Habscheid of his decision that morning.
“I am very disappointed that I have to retire from hockey at this point in my career,” Pauls said without further elaboration. “I want to thank my family, the Royals and the WHL for the support they have shown me and for allowing me the opportunity to compete at this level.”
During a telephone interview with the Progress on Monday morning, Pauls went into more detail.
“I’ve had problems with the injury I had last year,” he said, referring to a broken leg suffered early last season while playing for the Chilliwack Bruins. “I had surgery on it, but it never fully recovered. I’ve had chronic pain and swelling and I’ve thought about retiring quite a bit. There’s lots of things in my game, mostly my skating speed and strength, that’s not where it was. But I didn’t want to quit until I came back.”
Pauls spent most of last season re-habbing the injury, suffered in a game against the Tri-City Americans.
Habscheid was quick to compliment Pauls on the work he was putting into the process, and at the time Pauls was upbeat and hopeful about his hockey future.
“It was lots of adversity and a lot more work than I thought it would be,” Pauls said. “A broken leg, I didn’t think it’d be tough at all. But all the time and the re-learning how to skate was all character-revealing and it was a big thing for me personally to get back.”
This season, Pauls had 12 points (including three goals) in 26 games.
His last game was a 9-4 home ice loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Jan. 3.
“Marc (Habscheid) understood the situation and could kind of see that I wasn’t the same player I was before,” Pauls said.
The next step for Pauls is to get his leg fixed so that, hopefully, it doesn’t limit him for the rest of his life.
“I don’t think it should hold me back, but it’s hard to say now because right now there’s a lot of stuff that’s tough to do,” he explained. “It swells up real big. I can’t run or do a lot of things I’d like to do. It’s just not a good way to live my life.”
Pauls hopes to get surgery and have the plate and pins removed from his leg. That will result in another lengthy rehab, one he hopes has a happier ending.
“Hockey’s done for now, and it’s a tough decision obviously,” he said. “Long term, I think I’d like to get into an engineering program and become a petroleum engineer. Hockey’s been my life since forever, but life goes on.”