It was time to hang up his pads. Peter Budaj announced in early April that the 2018-19 season would be his last, ending his professional hockey playing career with a season mostly spent in the minor leagues with the Ontario Reign. Now just a month later, Budaj has already moved onto the next chapter of his life, taking a coaching position with the Montana State University Bobcats. He will serve as a goaltending and special teams coach after relocating to Bozeman, Mont., with his family.
Budaj, 36, was a second-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche back in 2001 and carved out a long and relatively successful NHL career. He appeared in 242 regular-season games with the Avalanche over several seasons, recording a 101-91-27 record during his time in Denver. He then moved on to the Montreal Canadiens where he found even more success, before experiencing the best stretch of his career in 2016-17 with the Los Angeles Kings. Budaj was thrust into the starting role for the Kings after Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff suffered early-season injuries, and ended up with a .917 save percentage in 53 games.
It wasn’t just the NHL that showcased Budaj’s talents. The veteran goaltender suited up several times for Slovakia in international competition, including three times at the Olympic Games. He’ll now take that experience to the college level and attempt to pass on some of his knowledge to the next generation of goaltenders.