COLUMBUS — Jakub Voracek said Monday that his chances of playing again this season with the Columbus Blue Jackets are “very slim.”
The 33-year-old forward sustained a concussion Nov. 4 at the 2022 NHL Global Series in Tampere Finland, when he was hit below the nose with a high stick from Dryden Hunt of the Colorado Avalanche. He has not played since.
“After talking to many people and many doctors we came to the conclusion that as of right now, I’m not capable of coming back, I won’t be coming back anytime soon,” Voracek said. “Obviously, I’m going to make my best efforts to do that (return) but it might be a long process and as of now I don’t see myself playing in the near future.
“I had a lot of head injuries in the past and that’s something I’ve got to think about and be smart about and that’s where I stand right now.”
Voracek said he is not contemplating retirement at this point. He is signed through the 2023-24 season.
“If I’m going to be medically cleared, I’m going to try. We’ll see about that,” he said. “And retirement? I can’t retire, I’m still under contract. I would like to finish it off. If I’m going to be able to, I’ll be happy about that. If I won’t be, that’s going to be up to doctors.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a sentimental person that gets stuck on things if you can do them. If I can do them and people are telling me I’m not allowed to, then I just move on and do something else. I think that’s the right approach for me right here. We’ll see what the future holds.”
He did not go into detail about his symptoms.
Voracek has six points (one goal, five assists) in 11 games this season. He had 62 points (six goals, 56 assists) in 79 games and led the Blue Jackets in assists last season, his first with Columbus after being reacquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on July 24, 2021, in a trade for forward Cam Atkinson.
The No. 7 pick by the Blue Jackets in the 2007 NHL Draft, Voracek has 806 points (223 goals, 583 assists) in 1,058 regular-season games with Columbus and Philadelphia. He has 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 49 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Voracek estimated he’s had “seven or eight” documented concussions in his career.
“As a player and, especially as a hockey player that is used to playing, you do everything in your power to get back on the ice and sometimes, maybe especially when you’re young, you miss that judgment,” he said.
Voracek said his biggest concern is sustaining another concussion:
“I got hit a few times pretty badly and over my concussion past I’m kind of worried that if that would be the case,” he said, “eventually like what’s going to happen to me, if I would be able to even get up out of bed in the morning?”
Voracek said he has no remorse for how he dealt with previous concussions.
“When you’re a young guy, you want to stick to the League,” he said. “You know, the game was way different when I started first three, four years, five years. As long as I was capable of lacing them up and kind of performing, I was going to do that.
“So, is there is a regret? No, no. I knew what I was doing and everything was up to me, so I don’t regret that.
“You live with that. I played over a thousand games. I think it brought out that I was always a good guy in the locker room, trying to help out the others and give my experience to the other people, so I don’t regret a single thing, no.”