Always will be the best picture of him in a Wings uniform, after his '08 Finals Game 5 go-ahead goal in the 3rd.
I could be wrong here, but I think that Brian Rafalski put the Detroit Red Wings ahead of himself today. I think he still wants to play. I think he realized that he was no longer worth the 6mil/season he was being paid. And I think he realized that the organization could make better use of that cap space elsewhere.
He essentially donated $6,000,000 to next year's Stanley Cup run (maybe more, as Lidstrom can now take a pay-cut and still be our highest paid defenseman). Not a lot of professional athletes would have done that, especially in this day and age. It deserves serious recognition and applause, imo.
He had a he!! of a prime with us, won a Stanley Cup, and always gave it all he had.
I don't think he's "donating" $6 mil to the Wings next Cup run. I think maybe the injuries he's fought through over the past few seasons are taking their toll on him. HOWEVER, I do think its a little convenient (maybe too convenient) that a $6 mil defenseman unexpectedly retires right before two big RFA defensemen hit the market.