VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — When confronted with the possibility of not being able to hug his two sons, Derek Dorsett knew he made the right decision to step away from hockey.
The Vancouver Canucks right winger announced last week he was ending his NHL hockey career because of health concerns following neck surgery last season.
Dorsett said there have been “some hard days” over the last week as he comes to grips with his decision, but spending time with his wife and family have helped give him reconcile with his situation.
“My boys have made it a lot easier going home and being able to hug them and play with them,” Dorsett told the media Wednesday.
“In the long-term aspect, your health is everything. That’s why I now have peace with it. I’m making the right decision to step away and look after myself. It wouldn’t be fair to me or my kids if I couldn’t be healthy enough to enjoy what this next chapter of my life is going to bring.”
The 30-year-old Kindersley, Saskatchewan, native played just 14 games last season before undergoing surgery to repair a disk degeneration in his neck. The procedure left both his arms numb and there were suggestions his playing days might be over then.
Dorsett returned to the Canucks this season and had seven goals and two assists in 20 games. He was on pace to better his career-high 12 goals set during the 2011-12 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
His last game with the Canucks was Nov. 18. He left the team during a road trip after suffering stiffness in his neck and back.
“It gave me peace of mind that I was playing some of my best hockey,” he said.
What the 6-foot, 192-pound Dorsett lacked in size he more than compensated for with tenacity and determination. He played a physical game and often fought players taller and heavier than him.
He played the same rambunctious style upon his return this season, but knew friends and family held their breath each time he took a hit.
“I have never sensed it before in my career or my life, that they were worried about me,” he said. “It was kind of a relief for them knowing that I am going to be able to live a happy life.”
Dorsett can’t point to one…