Forward Derek Dorsett will not return to the Vancouver Canucks active roster, team general manager Jim Benning announced on Thursday, citing health reasons and the risks associated with playing.

Dorsett, 30, underwent cervical disc herniation surgery in December of 2016. He was medically cleared to start the 2017-18 NHL season, but stiffness in the neck and back has persisted.

"We've evaluated Derek's health and fitness to play consistent with every player's medical history," said team physician Dr. Bill Regan in a statement. "When his latest symptoms presented we immediately took the precaution of removing him from the line-up 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."

The team director of rehabilitation confirmed the prognosis.

"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. Robert Watkins. "Given his current condition and the long-term, significant health risks, I advised Derek not to return to play." 

In 20 games this season, Dorsett has seven goals and two assists. He had played since a November 18 game with the St. Louis Blues

"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.

Originally taken in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft out of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dorsett has appeared in 515 NHL games over 10 seasons with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Canucks.

"Derek overcame the odds to make the NHL and play over 500 games," said 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."

A native of Kindersley, Sask., Dorsett was in the midst of his fourth season with the Canucks.

"I still have so many thoughts to share and people to thank for all of their support," Dorsett said. "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."