SAN JOSE, Calif. — After more than a year trying to return from knee surgery, Stars goaltender Ben Bishop’s career is over, general manager Jim Nill said Saturday morning.
Bishop, who had surgery last year to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, spent the last 14 months rehabilitating his knee. He joined the Stars at the beginning of training camp and practiced with the team almost every day since the beginning of the season.
Most recently, Bishop played for AHL affiliate Texas on Thursday night in his first game since the 2020 postseason. He allowed eight goals on 34 shots.
“It’s no secret, he has a degenerative knee injury, and he went down there, he wanted to be a big part of this,” Nill said. “He wanted to do everything he could to get back. In the end, by going through the process, going down there and playing, he found out that it’s the end of his career.”
Bishop is scheduled to speak with reporters on Tuesday morning.
Bishop, 35, was recalled from his conditioning loan on Saturday morning and placed on long-term injured reserve. He will remain there through the end of his contract in the summer of 2023.
Bishop finishes his career with 413 games played across five different franchises. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist three times, including second-place finishes in 2015-16 with Tampa Bay and 2018-19 with Dallas.
He played 143 games for the Stars across three seasons, going 74-48-11 with a .923 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average. He was part of the league’s best goaltending tandem with Anton Khudobin, and set a career high by making 52 saves against the Blues in Game 7 in 2019.
Bishop came two wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup in 2015 with the Lightning. Stars coach Rick Bowness was an assistant in Tampa Bay for that run.
“It hurts,” Bowness said. “I feel terrible for him because he’s such a great person and as I’ve always said, when he’s on, he’s a top three goalie in the league. He took us to the Finals in Tampa. When you go that far, you have a special bond.
“I’ve always felt very close with Bish. I’m devastated for him and his family, I know he wants to play. It’s just a very, very unfortunate thing that’s happened.”
When he was healthy, Bishop was one of the league’s best goaltenders. His .921 career save percentage is fifth-best in league history among goalies with at least 300 games played. Only Hall of Famers Dominik Hasek, Johnny Bower and Ken Dryden, and Tuukka Rask are ahead of him.
The recovery process was long for Bishop.
He was limited to three games in the 2020 postseason due the knee injury, and his last game in a Stars jersey came in Game 5 of the second round against Colorado. On Oct. 21, 2020, Bishop underwent surgery to repair his meniscus.
The initial timeline for Bishop put him on track to return for the team’s playoff push, but shortly after the trade deadline, the Stars ruled him out for the rest of the season. Over the summer, Bishop waived his no-movement clause for the expansion draft with uncertainty surrounding his return.
Nill signed Braden Holtby in the offseason in case Bishop was unable to return. Then, this week, Bishop went to the AHL to test his knee.
“He wanted to get back to the level he could, he’s been working at that,” Nill said. “He took all year last year to work on it, came back to training camp this year and we finally decided, he thought he was at the point where it was the best he was ever going to feel for his game and his knee, so that’s why he went down.
“By going down there, he gave everything he could and it was the best case scenario for him, that’s why he wanted to try it then. He rehabbed, set everything up so it gave him the best opportunity. In the end, he found out he can’t do it.”
Bishop could have played three games in the AHL as part of his conditioning loan, and the Stars could have asked the league for two more games. But his stay was cut short after one game with Texas.
“He’s the one that said ‘No, that’s it,’” Nill said. “In the end, he’s the one that had to make that decision. I don’t know how he feels. All I know is I watched the performance. He’s the one that knows.”
Bishop finished his career ranked in the top 15 with the Stars in games played (11th), wins (ninth), save percentage (first) and GAA (third).
“We’ve been talking about this for a year and a half,” Nill said. “When he got injured in the bubble, we knew what the injury was but we’re hoping ‘Could he get the pain out of it? Can you rehab it enough? Will it get back so he can play goal, feel normal?’
“He did everything he could. He’s been a great teammate. He’s done his job.”
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