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Vinny Prospal retires from NHL

Veteran center Vinny Prospal announced his retirement Tuesday after 16 NHL seasons.

The 38-year-old Prospal, who last played for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, played 1,108 games in his career and had 255 goals and 510 assists for 765 points.

He was expected to join the Vancouver Canucks' AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, British Columbia, last week on a tryout contract but said he decided to retire so he can spend more time with his wife, Monika, and their three children.

"When I got on the ice with the Abbotsford Heat last Thursday, it was clear to me that I did not have the desire to play at the level I have come to expect of myself anymore. And to not be able to give everything needed would be to disrespect the game that has been so good to me," he said in a statement released by the NHL Players Association. 

He thanked his "coach and friend, John Tortorella, for helping me have closure that would not have occurred had they not extended to me the opportunity they did last week."

Among Czech Republic-born players in NHL history, Prospal ranks fourth in points, third in assists and sixth in games played.

In all, he played for seven teams after being picked 71st overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1993 draft. Besides the Blue Jackets and Flyers, Prospal also played for the Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning.

He had his best season in 2005-06 when he led the Lightning, with 80 points. His 30 points last season led the Blue Jackets in a strike-shortened season.

"I want to thank my teammates and coaches who helped me enjoy a 20-year professional hockey career when very few thought I would play even one NHL game," Prospal said in the statement. "I sincerely want to thank the fans who have been so good to me, treating me with such kindness and respect, for the 20 years I have played here in North America in both the NHL and the AHL.

"Playing in the NHL was a dream. To play at the highest level for 16 years, with the best players in the world is something I will cherish for the rest of my life."