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Veteran NHL center Travis Zajac signs a one-day contract to Retire as a New Jersey Devil

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NJ Devils/Doug Doyle/Zoom
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Travis Zajac speaks to reporters via Zoom after announcing he has signed a one-day contract with New Jersey to retire as a Devil. Zajac played all but 13 games of his 15-year career with the Devils

Travis Zajac spent all but 13 games of his 15-year NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. On Monday, he signed a one-day contract with the team and then announced his retirement as a Devil.

The 36-year old Zajac, who has a wife and three children, spoke to reporters Monday afternoon about his decision to hang up his skates.

"I think right now I'm ready for the next phase. That's being a dad. That's being at the rink with my kids, being home for dinner, that's carpooling, that's driving hours on the weekends."

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New Jersey Devils
Travis Zajac was drafted by the Devils in 2004 and remained one of the top two-way centers in the league for 15 seasons

Zajac has always been considered one of the best two-way centers in the league and led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 against the eventual champion LA Kings. He considers that playoff-run as his most memorable moment with the team.

"Just because I missed most of that season with an injury and coming back and being part of a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. I've had a lot of friends still from that team, we still keep in touch. That was a run I won't forget."

Zajac had a spectacular playoff stretch that year, collecting 14 points in 24 contests.

Zajac spent the first 1,024 games of his career in New Jersey. Right before 2021 trade deadline, he was dealt to the New York Islanders. He helped the Islanders go deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native represented Canada twice in international play, winning a silver medal at the 2009 World Championship.

While his on-ice career speaks for itself, Zajac was always community-oriented with trips to area hospitals and schools. He recalled one of the more special moments during his Monday news conference when he visited a school in Newark.

"I got to play a little street hockey with the kids at the school and to see their faces, to see how much they enjoyed the game not knowing much about it, but for them to get the chance to put a stick in their hand and run around and take slap shots. The Devils have done a great job of growing the game of hockey and that's one of the instances that stuck out to me."

Zajac will remain with the organization in a player development and consulting role. Tom Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the New Jersey Devils praised Zajac's career.

“Everyone in the NHL appreciates that Travis Zajac’s work ethic and style of play were reflective of the New Jersey Devils. His training, discipline and focus rubbed off on every player who walked into that locker room over his 15-year career. I look forward to Travis working with our organization, on his terms and his timeline, in a manner that influences future Devils in the same manner when he played. We are ecstatic to know we will see the Zajac family around the Prudential Center rinks for years to come.”