Kristaps Kalns, Dienas mediji
Latvia’s ice hockey legend - Sandis Ozolins - has announced his retirement from professional sports, and has joined politician Einars Repse's association ''Future Forum of Latvia,'' reports LETA. Ozolins made the announcement on May 27 while appearing on Latvian Television.
Ozolins will become the association's general-secretary.
''I would like to thanks my parents, family, coaches, teammates and others who have supported me throughout my professional career. With this, I would also like to announce that I am ending my career in professional sports. I have played ice hockey for many years, and have always done so with much passion and love for the game. The time has come to retire,'' said Ozolins, who captained the Latvian national ice hockey team to its best ever performance at the Olympics earlier this year.
Speaking about his future plans, Ozolins said that he seriously considered what to do with his future, and said that he made the decision to join former Prime Minister Einars Repse's association. ''I am ready to continue working for the good of Latvia and Latvian society,'' Ozolins added.
''It is no secret I have met with political leaders in the past, but I have now made my choice. I will most likely be criticized for my decision, but I do not wish to remain on the sidelines, but be active with my ideas. As a businessman, I was interested in this model, and I agreed to join the association,'' said Ozolins about joining the party, which includes many businesspeople.
Asked whether this means that he could become active in politics in the future, Ozolins said that he has not though about this, but is only joining the mentioned association now, which he says has gathered many strong individuals with interesting ideas and proposals on Latvia's development.
In March 2012, Repse and his associates established the organization ''For Latvia's Development.'' After a political party was established with the same name, the association was renamed ''Future Forum of Latvia.''
''For Latvia's Development'' has also announced that it will be participating in the 12th Saeima elections in October, Repse previously told LETA.
Ozolins has supported several political parties previously. In 2001, he participated in the pre-election advertisement campaign for For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, according to LETA archives.
Meanwhile, in 2010, before the 10th Saeima elections, when the designated pre-election campaigning period was already over, posters popped up throughout the country the day before the election with Ozolins on them, with the slogan ''For good hockey,'' with the hockey star holding a jersey with the nr. 8 on it, which was the election ticket number of the political party For a Good Latvia, and which was led at the time by one of Latvia's so-called oligarchs Ainars Slesers.
Ozolins played for Latvian ice hockey club Riga ''Dinamo'' last season, scoring five goals and making 17 assists in 48 Kontinental Ice Hockey League (KHL) games. He has played in the KHL since 2009, after moving back to Europe after concluding his NHL career.
Ozolins was the 30th selection by the San Jose Sharks in the 1991 NHL Draft. In his 15-year NHL career, Ozolins won the Stanley Cup once - in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche. He has also participated in seven NHL All-Star Games.
The hockey super-star has played in a total of 1,012 NHL games in his career, during which he scored 190 goals and made 464 assists.