Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nathan Horton is still holding out hope he’ll be able to play hockey again.
Horton hasn’t played an NHL game since April 9, 2014 as he recovers from a degenerative back injury. Despite dealing with severe pain, he elected not to undergo invasive surgery because it would have meant the definitive end to his career.
“Obviously, my back’s not great but I have my good days and some OK days. I’m just taking it easy,” Horton told ESPN’s Joe MacDonald. “Eventually it’s going to go away — I hope. I’m just enjoying my life. I’m healthy and I’m happy. It’s obviously tough because I want to play.”
Horton, who turned 30 on Friday, was acquired by the Leafs from the Columbus Blue Jackets in February in exchange for forward David Clarkson with the team knowing he may never play again. He has five years remaining on a $37.1 million deal he signed with the Blue Jackets in 2013. The Leafs will pay Horton his salary, but they have the option of placing him on long-term injured reserve if they run into any cap issues, which was Toronto’s motivation for acquiring him and getting rid of Clarkson.
“I know I’m still young,” Horton added. “Life gives you curveballs and I’m just trying to be positive and that’s pretty much all I can do.”