Antoine Vermette, 36, retires after 14-season NHL career

Free-agent center Antoine Vermette, a Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks in 2015, announced his retirement Thursday via the NHL Players Association, ending his 14-season NHL career.

Vermette, 36, played the past two seasons with the Ducks but hadn’t appeared in a game this season.

He played in 1,046 regular-season NHL games, scoring 515 points (228 goals, 287 assists) over his career. He earned a reputation as a durable, two-way forward whose reliability in the faceoff circle (56.6 percent win percentage) resulted in the 14th-most faceoff wins (8,948) in NHL history.

“As a child, I dreamed of having a chance to play in the best league in the world of my favorite sport. … What a privilege! I am immensely grateful for all these incredible years punctuated by memorable moments that I will cherish forever. For me, hockey has been an outstanding vehicle for teaching the right values such as perseverance, discipline and respect,” he said in a statement, adding a hearty appreciation for all his former teammates: “Thank you ‘Les Boys’!”

A native of St. Agapit, Quebec, Vermette was selected 55th overall by the Senators in the second round of the 2000 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut with the team Oct. 9, 2003. He also had stints with the Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Blackhawks.

He was traded to Chicago in February 2015 and played an integral role in helping the Blackhawks lift their third Stanley Cup in six seasons by scoring three game-winning goals as part of seven points that postseason — highlighted by two game-winners in the Stanley Cup Final against the Lightning.

He reached the 500-point mark and 1,000-game milestone last season. His final NHL appearance came April 14, 2018, in his 97th postseason game.