Yesterday evening NHL insider Elliotte Friedman issued a shocking report that described how Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has been dealing with a rare and very serious allergic reaction to his hockey equipment. What sounds like a comedy sketch gag is no joke, as Hossa has had to endure a cocktail of strong medications the past few seasons in an attempt to control his reactions and continue his NHL career. Well today, the Blackhawks made it official: Hossa will not play in 2017-18.
Hossa and the Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman make the shocking announcement early this morning, dropping a bombshell on the hockey world as a result. In a prepared statement Hossa said:
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.
This is tragic. Hossa is one of the greatest players of his generation and, despite being 38 years old, still managed 26 goals and 45 points in 2016-17. It’s unclear at this moment whether he’ll return to the team for 2018-19 and beyond or whether he has fully retired, but a legend like Hossa has afforded himself the opportunity to take whichever path he chooses.
Skeptics will point to the news as merely a way for the Blackhawks to circumvent cap penalties for the 2017-18 season, but we’re not going down that road. Nothing on the surface of the news points to this as being the case. We’re talking about the health and safety of a human being and it’s easy to forget that when we discuss players with terms like “asset”.
Whatever the future holds for Marian Hossa, we wish him the best. It’s been truly an honor to watch him play the past 19 seasons and we wish him the best of luck in his fight against this condition.