Martin Hanzal has retired from the NHL.
The 33-year-old forward last played for the Dallas Stars against the New York Islanders on Dec. 23, 2018, nine months after he had spinal fusion surgery.
It was the third surgery for Hanzal, who had a history of back injuries. In July 2008, he had surgery to repair a herniated disk before having another surgery on his back in February 2015.
"It's a little bit of a relief because the last couple of years I wasn't sure if I'd play another NHL game or be healthy again, so now it's official: I am retired from the NHL," Hanzal told AZ Coyotes Insider on Sunday. "If I was healthy, I would probably still be playing, but after three back surgeries, and especially after the last one, I just can't do it anymore. I was doing everything I could after this last one, and it took me a year to get back on the ice.
"When I went to see the doctor again, it was either do another surgery or be done playing. Even the doctor said, 'We're not sure another surgery will help.' I still have a long life ahead of me. I don't want to do another surgery when it's not 100 percent sure it will even help."
Selected by the Phoenix Coyotes with the No. 17 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Hanzal scored 338 points (127 goals, 211 assists) in 12 seasons with the Coyotes, Minnesota Wild and Stars. He scored the fastest hat trick from the start of a game in Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets history, his third goal coming 27 seconds into the second period of a 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Gila River Arena on Dec. 4, 2008.
Hanzal played 608 of his 673 NHL games for the Coyotes, scoring 313 points (117 goals, 196 assists) from 2007-2017, 15th most in Coyotes/Jets history.
Hanzal and his brother, Jiri, recently founded HC Samson Ceske Budejovice, a semipro team in the Czech Republic, where he plays with fellow countrymen and former Coyotes teammates, forward Radim Vrbata and defenseman Rostislav Klesla.
Hanzal said he hopes to play for HC Samson occasionally and that he still skates with his 8-year-old son, Marty Jr.
"I feel fine," Hanzal said. "It's nice that I don't have people cross-checking me in my back in front of the net.
"Of course, if I wasn't hurt, I would love to play a few more years so my kids could watch me play, but I believe that's part of life. I'm retired because of my injuries and I'm happy with my career and everything I did."