Hockey forward Jakub Voráček from Columbus will probably not play again this NHL season after several concussions. He admitted this in an interview with overseas reporters today. However, he believes that he will return to the ice in the future.
“Of course I will try my best to try to get back, but it can be a really long process. But at the moment, I don’t really see the possibility of jumping back in the near future. But I will do everything in my power to get back on the ice,” declared Voráček.
He was also asked whether his return to the Blue Jackets lineup is realistic in the ongoing season, of which barely the first quarter of the regular season has been played. “The chance is really very small,” Voráček did not hide.
The 33-year-old 2010 world champion has not been cleared by doctors to return to hockey activities since his last game on November 4 in Tampere against Colorado. He scored in the 3-6 loss, but was hit in the face with a high stick by Dryden Hunt in the third period. On the second day in the rematch in Finland, Voracek was already missing from the Ohio team.
“I actually suffered a concussion in Finland. Since then I’ve met and talked to a lot of doctors and other people. Even though I’m feeling pretty good now, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not time to get back into the game. And in there won’t be any in the near future,” admitted Voráček.
He also commented on speculations regarding the possible end of his career. “I cannot quit. I still have a valid contract here and I would like to keep it,” reminded Voráček of his eight-year contract for a total of 66 million dollars, which expires at the end of the 2023/24 season. “If it works, I’ll be happy. Otherwise, it’s up to the doctors. If the doctors give me permission, I’ll definitely try. And we’ll see how it goes,” he added.
“I’ve had a lot of these head injuries in the past… I’ve had about seven or eight concussions documented. But then there were the smaller ones where you’re not quite sure. And it’s something I have to take into account to make the right decision about what and how to proceed. I have to carefully consider all the options I have,” emphasized Voráček.
Although he does not allow thoughts of closing the active track, he takes everything in perspective. “I’m not thinking about the end of my career right now. There’s plenty of time for me to recover. But I’m not a sentimental person who gets stuck on something I can’t do. If it doesn’t work out for me to play again or I’m banned, I’ll just go ahead and do something else. I think that’s the right approach for me,” he said.
At least he can live without limitations outside the ice. “I can live a normal life, which is important, but I still have symptoms related to this last concussion and the previous ones from the past. But I would like to keep them to myself. I have read various speculations in the last few days and I can say that having a concussion it’s not pleasant, but it’s not as bad with me as it may have sounded on the Internet,” said Voráček.
He misses hockey. “That’s the biggest problem I have – I miss the opportunity to be a part of it all, to be with the boys in the cabin and the whole routine. And Markéta is fed up with me at home too,” said Voráček with a smile. “But it’s just the way it is. During my career I tried to play with various problems and didn’t have to miss many matches, but I know very well that head injuries are a serious problem,” he added.
In the first 11 seasons in the NHL, he missed only 22 games during the regular season, five of which he played in full. But as it seems, some of the overcome health ailments are taking their toll only now.
“As a player, you try to do everything to get back on the ice as soon as possible. Especially when you’re young, you lack judgment. All those decisions about how and when I’m going to come back to the game were left up to me. And I always felt that when I came back on the ice and normally I’ll get involved in everything again, the problems will disappear. Mostly it was like that. But this time it’s not like that,” stated the student from Kladno.
And that apparently worried Voráček a lot. “It was a pretty hard hit that I got under the nose. But I’m a little bit worried about what would happen if I got one of the ones I’ve taken in the past. Because I’ve had a couple of really nasty ones in my career. I was terrified of what would happen to me. Would I even be able to get out of bed in the morning?” thought Voráček.
He had the opportunity to discuss his problems directly in Finland with the former outstanding striker and at the same time great friend Rick Nash, who works in the position of director of player development in Columbus. Nash retired from hockey at the age of 34 precisely because of persistent concussion symptoms.
“I had the feeling that I was talking to myself. We both had the same thoughts and the same opinions on things. You went through your problems exactly what I went through with mine. It was a good conversation,” recalled Voráček.
Voracek returned to Columbus, which selected him to the NHL during the 2007 draft as the seventh overall player in the order, before last season after spending ten years in Philadelphia. In 2021/22, he was the team’s most productive player with 62 points from 79 games for six goals and 56 assists. This season, he managed to play 11 games with a goal and five assists.
In total, during his career in the NHL, he already has 1058 starts in the regular season and 806 points (223+583). Among the Czech hockey players, only Jaromír Jágr and Patrik Eliáš were better. From 49 duels in the elimination battles for the Stanley Cup, Voráček added 28 points thanks to nine goals and 19 assists.