Vancouver Canucks forward Derek Dorsett has been forced to retire from the NHL because of health reasons and risks associated with playing, general manager Jim Benning said Thursday.
Dorsett, 30, had cervical spine fusion surgery on Dec. 5, 2016, after playing in 14 games. He was medically cleared to play this season and had nine points (seven goals, two assists) in 20 games. However, the latest evaluation of his neck revealed a cervical disk herniation adjacent to and separate from his previous fusion, according to Dr. Robert Watkins.
"I'm devastated by the news," Dorsett said. "It will take a long time for this to truly sink in. As hard as it was to hear, Dr. Watkins' diagnosis is definitive. There is no grey area, and it gives me clarity to move forward. I have a healthy young family and a long life of opportunities ahead of me. Hockey taught me a lot and it will help me be successful in whatever I choose to do in the future.
"I still have so many thoughts to share and people to thank for all of their support. What I can say for certain right now is that I left it all out on the ice. I gave my heart and soul to the teams I played for and never backed down from a challenge, including this one. I am proud of the way I played. It made me successful and a good teammate. Most of all I am truly honored and grateful to have lived the NHL dream."
Dorsett last played Nov. 18 against the St. Louis Blues, but symptoms of neck and back stiffness persisted.
Video: VAN@CGY: Sutter fires pass off Dorsett for SHG
"We've evaluated Derek's health and fitness to play consistent with every player's medical history," Canucks physician Dr. Bill Regan said. "When his latest symptoms presented, we immediately took the precaution of removing him from the lineup to carry out a thorough evaluation, including consultation with Dr. Watkins. His pre-existing conditions, combined with the recent surgery and the risks associated with continuing to play, led to a recommendation that Derek seriously consider not playing again."
Selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the seventh round (No. 189) of the 2006 NHL Draft, Dorsett had 127 points (51 goals, 76 assists) in 515 NHL games during 10 seasons with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Canucks. He was in his fourth season with Vancouver.
"Derek overcame the odds to make the NHL and play over 500 games," Benning said. "He's an example of what you can accomplish when you persevere. He is a great teammate, a terrific role model and leader for younger players. This is truly unfortunate news for Derek, his family and our team. We will be there every step of the way to support him, his wife Ali and his family as they take the next steps in their lives."