Long time Glads forward and captain Derek Nesbitt announced his retirement from playing professional hockey on Monday. 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.
Thank you @atlgladiators for always taking care of me and letting me do this to thank so many people. And thanks to the game that’s given me everything. I truly believe a game can love you back. https://t.co/t6MF65U3WM
— Derek Nesbitt (@Derek_Nesbitt) July 11, 2022
After four years of playing NCAA Division I hockey 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.
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.
“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 remains heavily involved with youth hockey at the IceForum in Duluth and serves as the Director of Youth Hockey.