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Tampa Bay Lightning players Vaclav Prospal is seen during the first period of an NHL game against the Florida Panthers Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008 in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)
Tampa Bay Lightning players Vaclav Prospal is seen during the first period of an NHL game against the Florida Panthers Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008 in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Veteran forward Vaclav Prospal retires after 16 NHL seasons Add to ...

Vaclav Prospal has retired following a 16-year NHL career.

The move wasn’t a surprise. Prospal was scheduled to join the Utica Comets — the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate — last weekend for games against the Abbotsford Heat.

But after talking with his family, the NHL club said the 38-year-old had decided to retire. The NHL Players’ Association made it official Tuesday.

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The native of Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, appeared in 1,108 career NHL games with Anaheim, Columbus, Florida, the New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. He registered 255 goals and 765 points.

Philadelphia selected Prospal No. 71 overall in the 1993 NHL entry draft. Five times he had 20 or more goals in a season and recorded more than 50 points on nine occasions.

Prospal enjoyed his best NHL season with Tampa Bay in 2005-’06 when he had 80 points (25 goals, 55 assists).

Prospal also helped the Czech Republic win two world hockey championships and was a member of the country’s bronze medal-winning team at the 2006 Olympic Games. Prospal was also named to the Czech’s ‘98 Olympic team that won gold in Nagano, Japan, but didn’t play due to injury.

“I loved playing hockey, I loved scoring goals and I loved being a part of the NHL for so many years,” Prospal said in a statement. “That said, within minutes of me stepping on the ice for practice last week in Abbotsford, I knew that I wanted to focus on something that was more important than hockey, my family.

“Having spent much of the last 10 months with them waiting for a call to return to the ice, I know now that I would rather be with them at home helping and supporting my wife and being with my kids than playing the game I love so much.”

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