It’s easy to find words to describe Derek Dorsett: heart and soul player, grinder, leader, warrior. Given the events of the past year, the word “warrior” doesn’t even do him justice.
About this time a year ago, it wouldn’t have been far-fetched to think Dorsett’s NHL career would soon be over. Within the span of a few months, he experienced the highs of playing in the league, to the lows of undergoing a career-threatening injury. Even so, he never backed down.
"I'll be back and I'll be healthy. I only know how to play one way and that's hard. I won't be changing how I play." – Dorsett
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 11, 2017
It’s been talked about numerous times already, but the complexity and seriousness of Dorsett’s surgery were quite scary.
“They pull the disk out and put a little washer with mesh on the bottom, and they gouge out bone out of my hip and sprinkle it in on that little washer with the mesh. They just pry your vertebrae up and slide that washer in and then release it, and once it releases down, they put a plate in and four little screws holding the C5 and C6 on the front side, and after – I think it’s four months – it creates that fusion.” (Source)
I will admit that I was slightly skeptical of Dorsett’s ability to solidify his roster spot, but I am pleasantly surprised and elated that he managed to do so. Not only is he proving people wrong, but he’s doing it with extra kick in his step.
He’s not known for being a scorer – and far from it, really – but to score five goals in eight games as a staple on the fourth line is impressive. Dorsett is sporting a shooting percentage of 35.7%, which is sky-high but obviously not sustainable. Goals aside, the physicality that he brings on a game-to-game basis is unphased. Coming off surgery, it would be normal to see players shy away from that aspect. Not in Dorsett’s case. He’s back and playing the style that once earned him the Canucks’ Fred J. Hume Award as the team’s unsung hero.
Dorsett is the Canucks’ leading scorer, but that’s beside the point. He underwent a surgery that could very well have ended his career. He was a forgotten man after missing the entire season essentially. His rehabilitation and recovery was quiet, which had him set up as a write-off in some books. People thought he was done.
Come the pre-season games in China; nobody knew what to expect – that is, nobody except Dorsett. In multiple interviews throughout the summer, Dorsett insisted that he wasn’t finished. He only knew one way to play, and he would do whatever it took to help the team. He’s stuck to his word, but not with the mentality that he had to do it to keep his job. Whatever doubts there were that he wouldn’t be able to recover – those are now silenced.
Dorsett isn’t expected to score goals, and providing offence isn’t even a part of his arsenal. He hit rock bottom last October, and his future as an NHL player was in jeopardy. Dorsett battled through the adversity, and not only is he back to normal, but he’s thriving and being rewarded – just like a warrior.