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Leafs Defenseman Svehla Retires From NHL

September 4, 2003

TORONTO (AP) _ Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Robert Svehla retired Thursday, ending his nine-year NHL career.

Earlier this summer, the Maple Leafs exercised a $4 million option on Svehla’s contract for the coming season.

``He walked away from $4 million to be with his wife and kids,″ his agent, Rich Winter said.

Winter said the Maple Leafs agreed in the spring on a two-year extension beyond this coming season, but Svehla wanted to consult his family before signing.

``His kids are so happy. His wife is so happy,″ Winter said.

Svehla lives in Slovakia and is a part owner of his former club team Dukla Trencin.

The 34-year-old spent seven-plus seasons with the Florida Panthers where finished as the team’s leader in games played (573) and assists (229). He holds virtually every record for a defensemen, including goals (61) and points (290).

He had seven goals and 38 assists in his one season in Toronto. Svehla ended a 35-day retirement last summer and agreed to a contract with the Maple Leafs, who acquired his rights in a trade with Florida.

He didn’t sign his retirement papers last summer, but he did this time. By signing the papers Svehla is ineligible to play this season unless all 30 teams agree to let him back. Svehla had considered signing with a team in December, but eventually ruled that out.

The Maple Leafs, desperate for a defenseman, had hoped Svehla would return. They are now expected to use his salary to sign another defenseman.

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