Martin Havlat’s career with the St. Louis Blues came to an end a week after it began as the veteran right wing was placed on waivers after requesting his unconditional release on Friday due to personal reasons.
Havlat signed a one-year contract with the Blues last Friday after impressing the team during a tryout. He made his debut for St. Louis on Tuesday and scored the game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils, the team with which he recorded five tallies and nine assists in 40 games last season.
After receiving 14 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time versus New Jersey, Havlat saw only 7:33 of action and failed to record a point against the New York Rangers on Thursday. He flew back to St. Louis with the team after the game but surprised his new – and now former – teammates with his decision.
“It’s too bad,” Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Right away that first game, he helped us big time. He’s had a long career, so you just wish him the best.”
“A bit of a shock,” forward Alex Steen added. “In the end, it’s his call. We loved having him in the group. He fit in great right away, an easy guy. … We’re sad to see him go. So he’ll be missed by the group.”
Selected by Ottawa with the 26th overall pick in the 1999 draft, Havlat made his debut with the Senators in 2000-01, registering 19 goals and 23 assists in 73 contests. He netted 22 and 24 tallies, respectively, in the next two seasons before scoring a career-high 31 in 2003-04.
The 34-year-old was limited to 18 games in 2005-06 due to a suspension and a shoulder injury, notching only nine goals and seven assists. He then became a restricted free agent and had his rights traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, who signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract.
Havlat was an All-Star in his first season with Chicago but underwent offseason shoulder surgery that, along with other injuries, allowed him to appear in only 35 games in 2007-08. He returned with a vengeance the following campaign, leading the team in scoring with a career-high 77 points.
Unable to work out a new deal with the Blackhawks, Havlat signed a six-year, $30 million contract with Minnesota on July 1, 2009. He lasted only two seasons with the Wild, totaling 40 goals and 76 assists in 151 contests before being traded to San Jose for Dany Heatley.
Havlat had an unproductive and injury-plagued three-year tenure with the Sharks and was bought out of the final year on his contract. He then inked a one-year deal with New Jersey but again was a shell of his former self and was not re-signed.
In 790 career games with the Senators, Blackhawks, Wild, Sharks, Devils and Blues, Havlat has collected 242 goals and 352 assists. He recorded 21 tallies and 52 points in 75 playoff contests with Ottawa, Chicago and San Jose and has represented the Czech Republic at three IIHF World Championships, two Winter Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.