Morgan Rielly announces retirement; plans to become artist

The Elbow staff

Morgan Rielly with the first of his public releases, entitled The Gardiner. Source: Toronto Maple Leafs

Morgan Rielly with the first of his public releases, entitled The Gardiner. Source: Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON – Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly today announced his retirement from professional hockey to pursue his passion for painting.

The 21-year-old informed Leafs brass of his decision following yesterday's 3pm trade deadline.

He has indicated that he will stay with the team for the remainder of this season, but will not seek a new contract in the summer.

"I've been painting for about six months now, and I think I'm where I need to be to make it," he told The Elbow in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, insisting that his decision "has nothing to do with hockey."

"I was hoping to get into the arts program at Everest College, but after I found out they closed down I've decided to continue being self-taught."

In a video released by the team today, Rielly proudly displayed The Gardiner — the first of his works to be released publicly.

"The Gardiner is kind of a play on words. It's my friend Jake Gardiner in his backyard doing some gardening."

"Most of the guys in the locker room didn't understand it. Some of them said it was a piece of crap, but I think this is a normal thing that all great artists go through."

"If the art thing doesn't work out, I have a feeling there will always be a spot for me on the roster. Even after a couple of years out of the game, I'm sure I'd fit right back in on the top pairing."