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This article is copyright 2007 by the Fort Myers News Press and is used for informational purposes only.

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Everblades captain says career over

By Chris Umpierre
Fort Myers News Press

Ryan Brindley has dedicated most of adult life to minor-league hockey. With two young children and a new landscaping business, the 31-year-old Estero resident no longer has the time to play the sport.

Brindley, the Florida Everblades' captain the past two seasons, officially announced his retirement Monday on the first day of Blades training camp. Brindley played nine pro seasons, the last four with Florida from 2003-07.

The defenseman's departure leaves a significant void for the ECHL team. Not only was Brindley the Blades' captain, but he was the team's most experienced and productive blueliner.

Brindley trained all summer at Germain Arena hoping to play a 10th pro season.

"I tried everything possible to see if I could make it work and play, but the bottomline is it just wasn't fair to myself, my family and the team," said Brindley, who has a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. "It wasn't possible at this point in my life.

"It's tough. This league is not really geared toward having older guys like myself. It's more of a developmental league now."

Blades coach Gerry Fleming said Monday Brindley isn't retiring and only taking some time off, but Brindley said otherwise.

"I'm retired," Brindley said. "I know Gerry and (general manager) Craig Brush are leaving that option open for me to come back, but I don't really see that being possible."

An offensive defenseman, Brindley registered 87 points (17 goals) in 159 regular-season games in his Florida tenure. He was coming off his best postseason in a Blades uniform. He had 13 points (four goals) in 16 playoff games last season when Florida lost to Dayton in the American Conference Finals.

"He's a big player for us," Fleming said. "When Ryan is on, Ryan's on. He's always been a tremendous competitor. He's been a leader on and off the ice, and it's tough to replace those types of guys."

Brindley is the third veteran to leave the team in the last two months. Forward Reggie Berg, the franchise's all-time leading point and goal scorer, retired recently after seven seasons with the club. Forward Brent McDonald, who played six campaigns with Florida, is taking a year off to focus on his new hockey training business.

Brindley said he looks back fondly on his Blades career.

"I just want to say thank you to the community and all the fans who have supported my family and I through my playing years," he said. "We're still going to be in the community and around the rink. It was a privilege to play the game you love for a living. I think a lot of times people don't appreciate how great that is."

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