Bruins' Thelven retires because of knee trouble

Boston Bruins defenseman Michael Thelven retired from professional hockey yesterday.

"It's is a very tough decision to make, but what can you do?" he said. "You just can't feel sorry for yourself. You have to go on with your life."


Thelven has had recurring right knee problems for three seasons and has undergone surgery three times.

"I've been playing hockey since I was 6 or 7 years old," he said. "It's been with me all my life, so it was a real hard decision. I respected the Bruins and they were always good to me. But I just couldn't continue this way -- I just couldn't go through more pain."


Thelven suffers from tendinitis and inflammation under his kneecap.

"Although this was not a totally unexpected decision, it is a big loss for the Bruins," general manager Harry Sinden said. "Michael is a talented hockey player and it is always a sad occasion when a player is forced out of the game by injury."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Stockholm was Boston's eighth pick and the 186th overall in the 1980 National Hockey League entry draft. He first played with the Bruins in the 1985-86 season, scoring six goals and 20 assists in 60 games.

During the 1988-89 season, Thelven was sidelined for 39 games with injuries and had the first of several knee operations in the off-season.

He missed the first 19 games of 1989-90, then returned to the lineup for six games before re-injuring his knee. He underwent surgery on Dec. 20, 1989.

Thelven attended training camp in preparation for the current season, but pain forced an arthroscopic procedure last Oct. 11.

Thelven skated again in January and traveled with the Bruins during a recent road trip, but the pain persisted.

"I was really close to coming back," he said. "But while I was on the road trip it started again. In L.A. it really started bothering me. I pretty well knew at that point that I was going to retire."


Since Dec. 26, 1988, Thelven played in only 27 of 217 Bruins games.

Monday, he discussed his future with the team doctor, who recommended a fourth operation.

"I'm 30 years old, and the other three knee surgeries didn't help, and I didn't see how a fourth one would," Thelven said.

Thelven said he plans to concentrate on his import-export business in Peabody, Mass., and perhaps provide guidance for other Swedish and European hockey players who hope to enter the NHL.

* Legendary Peter Stastny, one of only four players to appear in every game for the fourth-place New Jersey Devils this season, was not dressed Monday night for a critical game against the fifth-place Washington Capitals in East Rutherford, N.J.

It was not the sort of game the 34-year-old center wanted to miss. While others point to his age, he said he wants to play "in every game." Until last night, Stastny's only concession to age was missing some workouts on game days. "He doesn't like it," coach John Cunniff said. "Nobody likes it when they don't dress for a game. But this way we get some young legs in and, by doing it at home, I get to control the matchups better."