The center who played for a record 12 teams during 17 seasons in the NHL is retiring because of an injured left hip.
"The decision was clear to me after dealing with hip surgery the last two seasons, Sillinger said during a conference call Wednesday. "If I was to come back and be a hero I'd be getting a hip replacement before I'm 40."
The 38-year-old forward played in only seven games last season and had season-ending hip resurfacing surgery in January. In February 2008, he had a microfracture procedure on the hip that forced him to sit out the final 29 games of that season.
Sillinger spent three years with the Islanders and his 42 goals and 87 points were his most with any NHL team.
"It's a big hole to fill," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "Mike was good at many different things, whether it was putting the puck in the net or taking a faceoff."
Sillinger was chosen No. 11 in the 1989 draft by Detroit. For his career, he had 240 goals and 308 assists in 1,049 games.
Sillinger said he'd like to stay in hockey but downplayed the notion that he might go into coaching right away.
"I'm just going to enjoy the kids for now and see what the future brings," he said.
Besides the Islanders and Red Wings, Sillinger also suited up for Anaheim, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville.
"Mike has and always will be a tremendous ambassador for this game," Snow said. "He is a born leader in everything he does and on behalf of the New York Islanders I wish him and his family the very best in the future."