After 14 years, 659 games and 159 points with two different teams, Rostislav Klesla's NHL career came to an end on March 8, 2014.
In 2000, Rusty became the first Columbus Blue Jacket ever selected in an entry draft when he was taken fourth overall. He spent most of his time in the OHL during Columbus' inaugural season, but did manage two goals in his eight NHL appearances that year. He continued his career as a solid member of the Blue Jackets' defensive core, helping the team to its first postseason appearance in 2009. It was in Columbus that he earned the nickname "Rusty." He was the last remaining member from the original 2000-01 Blue Jackets team before being traded to the Coyotes on Feb. 28, 2011.
When Klesla initially arrived in the desert, in exchange for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto, his presence was less than imposing. He notched one point in 16 games for the Yotes before he and the rest of the team enjoyed a four-game sweep in first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.
Yet when the 2011-12 season arrived, Klesla rose to the occasion and assumed a more serious role within the Coyotes' defense-first, grinding system. Although not known for his offensive output, he managed eight points in a 15-game postseason trip to the Western Conference Final, contributing solidly to a campaign that is widely considered one of the franchise's best.
After that memorable season, Klesla's NHL career began to wane. Given a serious defensive regression on his behalf and the simultaneous progression of numerous young Coyotes defensemen, the Czech's days were numbered. His Coyotes career ended after playing only 25 games during the 2013-14 season with a trade to Buffalo. His NHL career would end shortly thereafter as he would opt to sit out rather than report to the Sabres.
Klesla's NHL career is survived by a Coyotes squad that eagerly anticipates the development of young blueliners like Connor Murphy, Michael Stone and Brandon Gormley.
The 32-year-old's love for hockey is still strong as he is poised to be the captain of his new team, HC Trinec, in the Czech Republic for the 2014-15 season.