Ryan Kesler believes his NHL days are behind him.
The 37-year-old currently rehabbing from a February hip surgery, his second such surgery, told NHL.com's Adam Kimelman that he isn't close to returning and doesn't think his body will ever get to where it needs to be to resume his career.
"I tried coming back on my first hip [that was operated on in 2019] and I was working hard rehabbing and skating, and then my other hip went and blocked all my momentum," Kesler said. "And to be honest, I'm still a far way away to even coming close. I don't think I'll ever get to an NHL level again. I'm just hoping to get to a level that I'm happy at."
A native of Livonia, MI, Kesler is a veteran of 1,001 games over 15 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. He hasn't played since the spring of 2019, missing the entirety of the past two seasons.
He still has one year remaining on a six-year, $41.25 million deal signed in 2015.
Kesler admits to falling out of love with hockey.
"It got to a point, my last couple years playing, I hated the game, I hated playing," Kesler said. "Going to the rink, being in pain and then not being able to do what you normally do. Your mind wants you to do it and you just can't do it. That was when I knew, let's get something done, let's reset, let's try to get back to loving the game again. And I started loving the game again. I was trying to get back and skating and then my [left hip] went and I was like, 'You know what? I'm not going through this again.'"
Still, Kesler has not abandoned his rehab.
"I still skate three days a week just trying to get back to a level that I'm happy at," Kesler said. "But I'm 37 years old. As much as my mind's like, 'Oh yeah, I can play again,' I'm not going to be that guy that's that naive to think that I can compete in the league, let alone be myself in the league again."
Twice an All-Star, Kesler has recorded 258 goals and 315 assists for his career.
Internationally, Kesler has represented the United States on a number of occasions, including as part of the gold medal-winning entry at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Finland and at a pair of Olympic Games, at Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2017.