IT'S NOT EVERY DAY a professional athlete calls it quits and personally e-mails the Daily News to tell us about it.

But that's exactly what happened Monday night at about 11:30 when we received an e-mail from former Wings goaltender Dallas Eliuk, who announced his retirement from professional lacrosse. Eliuk - who played 18 seasons, 15 for the Wings (1991-2005) - finished out his career playing the last three seasons for the Portland LumberJax in the National Lacrosse League.

The LumberJax will retain the services of Eliuk, but under a different capacity. He was named assistant coach, as well as director of community relations and director of creative design, which we think is just a fancy title for "dude who thinks of ways to put fans in the seats."

The decision comes at the perfect time for Eliuk, who is awaiting the arrival of his first child.

"I've made the decision to support the LumberJax this year through assistant coaching and providing continued support in schools and the community," writes Eliuk. "I am also looking forward to a few less blows in the face and head as my wife and I prepare for our first child this spring."

In his tenure with the Wings, Eliuk was a nine-time All-Pro and collected four championships, two in which he was named the NLL Championship MVP. A class act who entertained the lacrosse-loving fans of this city, Eliuk, a native of Canada, ended his message by thanking those very same people.

I learned to play lacrosse in Canada. I learned to love it and make it my life in The Spectrum & Wachovia Center. Just prior to the 2006 NLL season, after 15 winters in the city of Philadelphia, the rapidly deteriorating health of my father in British Columbia made it necessary to request a trade to a city closer to home. But my memories of Philadelphia, my Wings brothers, and most of all the amazing, steadfast, supportive fans, will warm my heart the rest of my days.


Dallas *

- Kerith Gabriel

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