When the Canucks announced that Dorsett would immediately return to Vancouver during this 6 game Eastern road swing, speculation that he’d re-injured his neck after a fairly complicated surgical procedure last season began to swirl. This morning, Canucks GM Jim Benning made the announcement that Dorsett indeed was being taken off the active roster for the remainder of the season.
The quote from Dr. Robert Watkins, the LA-based surgeon who performed the procedure on Dorsett, is pretty clear: "The latest evaluation of Derek's neck revealed that he's sustained a cervical disc herniation adjacent and separate to his previous fusion," said Dr. Watkins. "Given his current condition and the long-term, significant health risks, I advised Derek not to return to play."
And while the Canucks nor Dorsett have made an official call, they both make it sound like his career is over. "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," continued Dorsett. "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."
Benning’s statement mirrored what Dorsett said: "Derek overcame the odds to make the NHL and play over 500 games," said Jim Benning. "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."
I am not what you would call a Dorsett fan by any stretch, but criticisms matter not in a situation like this. His health and well-being are always the first priority. And regardless of your thoughts on Dorsett, you can’t help but feel devastated for him at this time.
Dorsett was drafted 186th overall by Columbus in the 2006 draft, and played parts of 5 seasons there before being traded to the New York Rangers in April of 2013. After one season in the Big Apple, he was sent to Vancouver for a 3rd round pick at the 2014 Entry Draft. Dorsett scored 20 goals and 34 assists for the Canucks, including a surprising 7 goals in 20 games this season. He played a total of 515 NHL games, which is impressive enough given his draft position and skill set.
The fact he was able to return to action at all this season is even more amazing, and while it seems to have come to a predictable end, his return and offensive outburst was inspirational, especially to the younger Canucks. We’re not going to speculate on who’s going to take over his roster spot, or how this is going to turn into an opportunity for someone right now. All we want to do is say thank you, Derek. We may not have always been kind in our assessment, but we appreciate that you worked your ass off for this team.