Canucks’ Derek Dorsett sees career ended by spinal issues

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The Vancouver Canucks announced Thursday morning that forward Derek Dorsett will not play again due to health reasons and the risks that would come should he suit up again.

The 30-year-old Dorsett left the team last week while dealing with complications from spinal surgery last season. After missing 68 games in 2016-17, he returned this season and got off to a great start scoring seven goals and recording nine points in 20 games.

“I think the symptoms just slowly came around the last week or so,” Canucks head coach Travis Green said last week. “He’s been kind of dealing with it the past several days, week.”

Dorsett released a statement via the Canucks:

“I’m devastated by the news. 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 honoured and grateful to have lived the NHL dream.”

The surgery, which he spoke with NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley about recently, saw doctors remove bone from his hip to graft into a disk in his neck. It was similar to the one that cost Peyton Manning the 2011 NFL season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Dorsett, a seventh-round pick in 2006, has played 515 NHL games with three teams over 10 seasons. That’s a pretty fine career considering the long odds he faced at the start. So there was no question that despite the issues he faced he was going to do whatever he could to play again until his body told him it was over.

“It’s the only thing I know,” he told Woodley. “I’ve played hockey since I was 3 years old, and as soon as I made the decision to get surgery, my focus was to recover and play again. There was never any doubt.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.