By Andrew Miller
Of The Post and Courier Staff
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – In the end, Dave Seitz just couldn’t see himself in another uniform.
Seitz, the South Carolina Stingrays’ all-time leading scorer, announced his retirement from hockey Tuesday afternoon.
Seitz, who played in 489 games for the Stingrays over eight seasons, broke down in tears several times during an emotional 30-minute press conference Tuesday, just one day after getting released by the team.
“It’s been a very difficult season on and off the ice for me,” Seitz said. “This is the first season where I’ve felt like hockey was a job. I told myself a long time ago that when the game stopped being fun, it was time give it up.”
Seitz finished his career as the team’s all-time leader in every major offensive category, including points (587), assists (370) and goals (217). Seitz even made his mark on the ECHL record book, finishing fifth on ECHL’s all-time assist list and eighth in total points.
Seitz seemed to play his best in the postseason. He played a major role in both of the Stingrays’ Kelly Cup titles in 1997 and 2001. He was the Kelly Cup MVP in 2001, scoring 28 points on 13 goals and 15 assists in 18 games.
“That was vintage Dave Seitz,” said South Carolina goalie Kirk Daubenspeck. “Without him, I’m not walking around with a Kelly Cup ring right now.”
However, Seitz struggled offensively this season, battling a variety of injuries, including a broken nose and a sore hip. In 44 games, Seitz scored just five goals and had 24 assists for 29 points. Seitz, a three-time ECHL all-star, led the league two years ago with 44 goals.
It was Seitz’s lack of production this season that led head coach Jason Fitzsimmons to release the former Clarkson University star.
“Dave Seitz has given his heart and soul to this organization,” Fitzsimmons said. “We did what we thought was best for this hockey team. I still think he’s got some hockey left in him. We wish Dave and his family the best.”
The Stingrays’ roster became too full when the team acquired veteran center Mike Barrie from Bakersfield on Monday for future considerations. Barrie had 12 goals in 26 games with Bakersfield before the trade.
Seitz recently bought a home on James Island and said he’ll remain in the Lowcountry.
“This is my home,” Seitz said. “This is where I want to live.”
Seitz said he has drawn interest from other teams from the ECHL and across the United States, including Colorado, of the Central Hockey League. The Eagles feature two former Stingrays in Brad Williamson and Scott Swanson. But after eight seasons with the Stingrays, Seitz he couldn’t see himself playing for another team.
“This is where my heart is,” Seitz said. “This is where I want to end my career.”