DULUTH, Ga. – The next stop in forward Derek Nesbitt‘s illustrious career will be the ECHL Hall of Fame. Monday, the 16-year veteran announced his retirement from professional hockey.
The long-time captain of the Atlanta Gladiators posted 804 points (325G, 480A) in 1,040 regular-season games; with 615 coming in the ECHL, which is 13th in league history. 207 of his 325 goals came in the ECHL, which is 25th most all-time. He ranks 24th in league history with 331 assists and 23rd with 538 career points. Additionally, he played in 96 career playoff games, amassing 64 points (24G, 40A) and winning a Kelly Cup championship with the Idaho Steelheads in 2007.
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. He was a part of the leadership core in Atlanta, captaining the team in 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2019-20, and 2021-22.
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.
“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.”
Before breaking into the pro ranks, Nesbitt played four years at Ferris State University. There, he played 154 games, racking up 141 points (59G, 82A). After his collegiate days were over, he broke into professional hockey with the Central Hockey League’s Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in 2005, playing in seven postseason games. The next season (2005-06,) 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.
“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.”
This past season, Nesbitt was the league’s oldest player, at age 40.
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