The player who used his heart to build an unlikely National Hockey League career, used his head when he decided to end it. But that doesn’t make it any easier on Derek Dorsett’s heart.

The former Vancouver Canucks winger, abruptly forced into retirement last week by back injuries, met the media one last time here Wednesday morning and explained with clarity and conviction why he needed to retire.

The only time during his press conference at Rogers Arena when Dorsett’s voice cracked with emotion was when he described waiting under the stands last Saturday to participate in a pre-game ceremony for Daniel Sedin’s 1,000th point and saw his teammates going on the ice without him to face the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I was waiting down by the tunnel and seeing the guys go out, that’s when I got emotional, knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to go to battle with those guys,” Dorsett, 30, explained. “That’s when it kind of hit me.”

Later, he said: “I’d like people (to remember) that I played the game hard, honest. That I showed up every night and did whatever I could to help my teammates and my teams win. My teammates mean everything to me. The jersey I put on over my head means everything to me.”

An undersized seventh-round pick from Kindersley, Sask., Dorsett pulled an NHL jersey over his head for 515 games in the best hockey league in the world. The last 184 games over three-plus seasons were with the Canucks. He also played with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.