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Notre Dame, Rockford IceHogs Alum Stephen Johns Retires from Hockey

The 29-year-old plans to document his travel across the United States to help others struggling with their mental health.

Stephen Johns announced his retirement from hockey because of post-traumatic headaches on social media Sunday.

The former Notre Dame and Rockford IceHogs defenseman, who has detailed his battles with depression, plans to travel the United States to help others struggling with their mental health.

“I’m writing this post because I’m tired of letting depression destroy my life,” Johns wrote in the post. “The realization that my career has come to an end has really [expletive] with my identity... What I’ll miss most about the game of hockey is providing inspiration. So, I’ve decided to rollerblade and road-trip across the country to hopefully help others facing their own battles.

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“I’ll be documenting along the way, to share my full story, because I know what it feels like to be alone. If I can still inspire one person to climb out of their hole, then that’s a successful trip and exactly what I’m aiming for.”

Johns, 29, did not play this past season and missed the final 23 games of the Dallas Stars' Stanley Cup Playoffs run in 2020. He missed the entire 2018-19 season because of headaches and returned to the ice in 2020, playing 17 regular-season games. He was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The Chicago Blackhawks selected Johns in the second round (No. 60 overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. Johns scored 57 points (15 goals, 42 assists) in 162 games during a four-year career at Notre Dame then signed with Chicago in 2014. He had 26 points (five goals, 21 assists) in 59 regular-season games and seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight Calder Cup Playoffs games for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.

The Blackhawks traded Johns and Patrick Sharp to the Stars for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt on July 10, 2015. Johns made his NHL debut against Chicago in a 5-2 Dallas win on March 12, 2016, and scored 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 167 NHL games for Dallas.