Photo: Carly A. Mullady, Blackhawks 2015 victory parade
In a horrible twist of fate and heartbreaking irony, Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will sit the 2017-18 season following a severe allergy to the very equipment that’s meant to protect him on the ice.
Hossa confirmed this in a statement released by the Blackhawks Wednesday:
“Over the course of the last few years, under the supervision of the Blackhawks medical staff, I have been privately undergoing treatment for a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat the disorder.
“Due to the severe side effects associated with those medications, playing hockey is not possible for me during the upcoming 2017-18 season.
“While I am disappointed that I will not be able to play, I have to consider the severity of my condition and how the treatments have impacted my life both on and off the ice.”
Sportsnet in Canada late Tuesday night leaked the news that Hossa, 38, may be unable to return to the NHL. They reported sources claiming the Blackhawks’ veteran had become allergic to his athletic equipment and that preventive medication proved too dangerous for long-term use.
While this seems absurd, it is not. It may be rare, but it has led to the untimely career-ending of other NHL players like Tom Reid.
Blackhawks team physician Michael Terry said the risks of play and treatment outweigh benefits:
“Marian has been dealing with the effects of a progressive skin disorder that is becoming more and more difficult to treat and control with conventional medications while he plays hockey.
“Because of the dramatic nature of the medications required and their decreasing effectiveness, we strongly support his decision not to play during the 2017-18 season. We feel in the most certain terms this is the appropriate approach for Marian in order to keep him functional and healthy in the short term and throughout his life.”
Full disclosure, Hossa is my favorite player. As his fan, I’m utterly devastated by this news. I’ve seen this man accomplish so much professionally and personally, and I think this potential untimely ending is heartbreaking.
Just a couple months ago, on April 22, he told media how much he wanted to keep playing despite being 38.
“I love to be in the gym. I love to train and prepare and maybe one year when I feel it’s not there I’m going to know, but right now I still enjoy it…
“If I feel like I can not skate anymore, keep up with the young guys that would have me thinking at home ‘is it worth it to take somebody’s spot?’ But I still feel I have something to bring to the team, help the team in different areas so I don’t think that way right now.”
As a Blackhawks fan, he’s brought us plenty of victories. But he’s also brought us this:
And, all of this:
Hossa has 1,134 points (525 goals, 609 assists) in 1,309 career games (since the 1997-1998 season with Ottawa, where he played seven seasons followed by three in Atlanta, one in Pittsburgh and one in Detroit before Chicago), with 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason games. A substantial amount of these stats have been part of his Blackhawks career.
- In 2009-2010, he had 24 goals and 27 assists in 57 games.
- In 2010-2011, he had 25 goals and 32 assists in 65 games.
- In 2011-2012, he 29 goals and 48 assists in 81 games.
- In 2012-2013, he had 17 goals and 14 assists in 40 games before an untimely severe injury from a Raffi Torres hit.
- In 2013-2014, he had 30 goals and 30 assists in 72 games.
- In 2014-2015, he had 22 goals and 39 assists in 82 games.
- In 2015-2016, he had 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games.
- In 2016-2017, he had 26 goals and 19 assists in 73 games.
He is one of the league’s best two-way forwards to date and is an expected Hall-of-Famer. He’s also been an integral part of three Stanley Cup wins in five seasons since joining the Hawks in the 2009-2010 season.
Hossa kept the Blackhawks alive with a Game 5 OT goal in their 2010 Stanley Cup run, ultimately contributing to the first Cup for Chicago in 59 years.
Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said the organization will continue to support the beloved player:
The Chicago Blackhawks are in full support of Marian Hossa as he addresses his medical issues. This is extremely difficult for us because we all know the incredible person and player that Marian Hossa is – competitive, loyal and humble. He has played a major role in the success our franchise has experienced in recent years, which makes his departure from our lineup a significant loss. His teammates and coaches know he battled through some very tough physical difficulties but never complained or missed games despite the challenges he faced. The organization will continue to provide him every resource he needs to maintain his health.
No official statement speaks to his plans beyond the 2017-2018 season. He’s signed with the Blackhawks through 2020-2021 with an annual cap hit of $5.275 million. If he were to retire, that would leave Chicago with a continued $4 million-plus salary hit, intended as punishment for teams that sign players to long contracts like Hossa’s $63.3 million, 12-year deal signed when he became a Hawk.
He was set to make just $1 million annually over the next four seasons, but still carry the $5.275 million hit. Should he stay a Blackhawk, with or without a return to the ice, long-term injured reserve would open the salary cap in ways retirement wouldn’t, according to the Chicago Tribune. His cap hit would essentially be nulled during time on the LTIR, giving the Hawks the $5.275 million space for the roster when Hossa cannot be on the ice.
Of course, with his accolades, capabilities, and camaraderie, the team would likely prefer him dressed and playing.
Hossa’s statement included:
The Chicago Blackhawks organization, including Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and Stan Bowman, and my agent, Ritch Winter, have been very supportive throughout this entire process. I would also like to thank my teammates and the amazing Blackhawks fans for their understanding. With respect to the privacy of my family, I will not be commenting any further on my health.
At least we know his time off will include adorable moments.