Former Panther Dvorak announces retirement

Toronto, ON ( - Radek Dvorak, who broke into the National Hockey League with Florida almost two decades ago, officially announced his retirement on Tuesday.

"It was an honor for me to play in the best league in the world for 18 seasons," Dvorak said in a statement issued through the NHLPA. "I would like to thank to all the organizations, coaches and teammates I played for or with. Also, thank you to my parents, wife and kids who have always supported me and helped me throughout my whole career. At last I would like to thank to my fans who believed in and followed me all these years."

Dvorak was taken 10th overall by the Panthers in the 1995 draft. He contributed 13 goals with 27 points in 77 regular-season games his rookie season while adding a goal and three assists in 16 postseason appearances as the third-year franchise reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

The native of the Czech Republic also played for the Rangers, Oilers, Blues, Thrashers, Stars, Ducks and finally the Hurricanes last season. He finished with 227 goals and 363 assists in 1,260 total appearances.

In New York, he joined countrymen Petr Nedved and Jan Hlavac on the "Czech- mates Line" and set career highs in goals (31), assists (36) and points (67) during the 2000-01 campaign.

Dvorak won a gold medal for his native country three times at the World Championship (1999, 2001, 2005) and also participated in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.