SHANE HNIDY knows the pangs are coming. It might be in a couple of weeks when the puck first drops or on a hockey-perfect day in the dead of winter.
Walking away from a long playing career in the NHL can't be easy. But doing so after winning a Stanley Cup and with a door to the broadcast booth swinging open sure makes the transition a whole lot easier.
"The offers, as you get older, weren't there. But now I expect it will really play in with the local men's league," said Hnidy with a grin after being announced as the new radio colour analyst for Winnipeg Jets games on Sports Radio 1290.
"For me (retiring) is tough, but the way this has happened... coming off a Stanley Cup and knowing the offers just weren't there makes it a bit easier. I knew I was probably going to have to go to a camp and work my way onto a team. This allows me to hit the ground running. It's a clean break and made for an easier decision.
"There's so much excitement about the team returning and I love my new job and everything else. But there will be times during the year, maybe in the first home game, where a part of me wishes I was still out there. But this is a new career path, a new challenge."
The 35-year-old product of Neepawa carved out a solid NHL career as a dependable defenceman, suiting up for 550 NHL games with Ottawa, Nashville, Atlanta, Anaheim, Minnesota and the champion Bruins this past spring.
He had hoped to continue playing this season -- and did talk to the Jets about a possible opportunity -- but when the offers weren't concrete and a chance to pull on a headset presented itself, he jumped at the opportunity.
The fact that it means he won't have to uproot his wife and his four kids -- the Hnidys have made Winnipeg their home base for the last couple of years -- made the career transition even tastier.
"We're Manitobans. This is home," he said. "And to be able to work here and be a part of the NHL still was a big part of the decision for me. I worked really hard to get to the NHL and I wanted to continue to work in it in some capacity."
Hnidy will lean on his many contacts in the game for advice, including those who have made a similar jump from the locker-room to the booth. And he promises he won't shy away from criticizing a player if it's warranted.
"There's going to be a learning process. But I'll approach it with a lot of hard work because I want to be successful in everything I do," Hnidy said.
"I won't make it personal. But as a leader and a teammate on many teams I've never had a problem calling a person out."