Guillaume Desbiens’ decision to quit Sheffield Steelers despite recently extending his contract with the Elite League club was a big blow to their summer rebuilding plans.
The 32-year-old forward penned a new two-year deal with the Steelers back in April, but has now decided to return to North America for family reasons.
The Canadian has accepted a job back home which will force him to call time on his long and distinguished ice hockey career.
Desbiens spent four seasons with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, before making his senior debut in 2005.
He spent the next three years mixing his time between Gwinnett Gladiators in the East Coast Hockey League and Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League.
Desbiens switched to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in 2008 and showed his quality, scoring 21 goals with 26 assists in 78 games.
Over the next three seasons Desbiens continued to ply his trade in the AHL with Manitoba and Abbotsford Heat, but he also got his chance to ice in the NHL.
He played 23 games for Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames and while failing to make an impact on NHL betting markets with his goal scoring exploits, his résumé would forever show he had played in the world’s top league.
Desbiens spent two more years in the AHL before heading to Europe to play for EBEL side Dornbirner EC.
He joined the EBEL’s Olimpija Ljubljana at the start of the 2015/16 campaign, but soon made his way to Britain and the Sheffield Steelers. In two seasons in South Yorkshire Desbiens won one Elite League title and a play-off crown.
The forward played over 100 games for the club and while never quite producing the points output you might have expected, his willingness to drop the gloves and stick up for his teammates meant he quickly became a firm favourite with the fans.
Sheffield boss Paul Thompson has already moved to fill the gap left by Desbiens, with another former NHL forward Tim Wallace agreeing a one-year deal with the club.
The 32-year-old has played over 100 games with Pittsburgh, Carolina, New York and Tampa Bay. He has also iced 439 times in the AHL, scoring 99 goals with 101 assists.
With Desbiens picking up two trophies in just under two seasons with the Steelers, Wallace has some big skates to fill as the Canadian embarks on a new chapter in his life.
(Image permission: Dean Woolley)