Brian Lake predicts his departure was at the start of a three-part Hawthorn plan to retire their 30-plus AFL stars.
The key defender and ruck-forward David Hale left the club last year after playing in their third-straight premiership.
One of the keys to Hawthorn’s quest for an historic fourth premiership in a row this season is the group of veterans still at the club.
Captain Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne and Josh Gibson are all over 30 and remain key players for the Hawks.
But their age also means they probably would not come back from a significant injury.
Lake said on Thursday morning that the Hawks will probably retire them two at a time and he thinks Hodge and Burgoyne will likely to go at the end of this season.
The Norm Smith Medallist also made it clear he would have loved another AFL season before retirement.
“It was a joint decision – I did want to play on,” Hale told RSN927.
“But you could see with their list, what they were trying to do.
“They were going to go two, two and two with the older guys – me and David Hale were probably the guys to go first.
“It will be interesting to see how they `future out’ the other guys with Hodgey, you’d say probably it’s Shaun’s last year at Hawthorn as well.”
Gibson said a couple of hours later that this strategy was news to him.
“We’ve spoken here a lot that Clarko (coach Alastair Clarkson) doesn’t talk about blokes’ ages – it’s about what you’re doing on the field,” Gibson said.
“If some guys retire, that’s the way it is.
“I don’t know where Lakey has got that from – maybe he’s getting into the coach’s box.
“Right now, no-one is thinking about on retirements, we’re focussing on having a big 2016 season.”
Lake also noted Hawthorn’s ability to recruit well – he, Hale, Gibson and Burgoyne all started at other clubs.
He expects the Hawks will have their eyes on two prominent Gold Coast midfielders as the premiers try to stay at the top.
“Who are they going to replace them (the veterans) with? A Jaegar O’Meara or a Dion Prestia?,” Lake said
“It’s exciting times.
“That’s the thing with Hawthorn, they’re able to just get these players from other sides with ease.
“I don’t know how they do it.”