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Atlanta's Nesbitt announces retirement

Monday, July 11th
Atlanta's Nesbitt announces retirement

DULUTH, Ga. – Long time Atlanta Gladiators forward and captain Derek Nesbitt announced his retirement from playing professional hockey. Nesbitt ends his 16-year hockey playing career with 804 points (325g-480a) in 1,040 professional games. He also amassed 64 points (24g-40a) in 93 professional postseason contests and captured a Kelly Cup championship with the Idaho Steelheads in 2007. 

Nesbitt ranks 13th in ECHL history with 615 games played, tied for 25th with 207 goals, 24th with 331 assists and 23rd with 538 career points.

"Derek Nesbitt will always be a cornerstone of the Gladiators," said Team President Jerry James. "He brought honor to this team and this city by how he carried himself on and off the ice. His leadership will be missed, and we will proudly support him in whatever he does next."

Nesbitt ends his hockey playing career as the all-time leader in Gladiators goals (166), assists (258), points (424), and games played (512). The Seaforth, Ontario native spent nine of his 16 professional seasons playing with the Gladiators, beginning in the 2005-06 season as a rookie. "Nezzy" long served as a part of the leadership core in Atlanta, captaining the team in 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2019-20, and 2021-22. 

"Congratulations to Derek and his family," said Head Coach Jeff Pyle. "A true professional, a good leader, and a great friend. I wish him all the best through the rest of his journey and thank him for what he's done for this organization."

The Gladiators captain was a major offensive factor during his final season in which he skated as the oldest player in the ECHL and turned 40 in April. Nesbitt racked up 51 points (18g-33a) in 65 games during the 2021-22 campaign, and he led the entire league with four shootout goals. 

After four years at Ferris State University, Nesbitt received his first pro experience when he skated in the Central Hockey League with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs for seven postseason games. The next season, Nesbitt's rookie year, the forward helped push the Gwinnett Gladiators to the Kelly Cup Finals with 69 points (26g-43a) in 71 games to go along with 13 points (6g-7a) in 17 Kelly Cup Playoff games. Nesbitt spent two more seasons in the ECHL with Idaho and Gwinnett before making the jump to the American Hockey League. 

The Canadian laced up his skates for 372 AHL contests and tabbed 225 points (104g-121a). He saw action with the Rockford IceHogs, San Antonio Rampage, Manitoba Moose, Peoria Rivermen, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Oklahoma City Barons, and the Chicago Wolves. 

While mostly playing in the AHL from 2007 to 2014, Nesbitt returned to the ECHL for 37 games with the Toledo Walleye in 2009-10 and 11 games with Gwinnett in 2010-11.

After a stint overseas with Bolzano HC in Italy, Nesbitt returned to the Gladiators in 2015 and remained with the club exclusively until his final season. 

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