When Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa rested during the summer of 2017, the news took almost everyone in the hockey world by surprise. Sure, there weren’t many people who expected the legendary winger to play all 12 seasons of his contract, but still there was no indication that Hossa was set to retire.
He had just finished the 2016-17 campaign with 26 goals and 45 points in 73 games at 37 years of age. Now 40 years old and having been away from the game for two seasons, Hossa is finally coming forward and talking about the skin condition that forced him to retire.
Check out some of these quotes from Hossa, taken from Scott Powers’ latest column for The Athletic:
"I wasn't really thinking about the end, it just (came) basically, the eczema kind of told me.”
"My body told me there was no other way. That's when I had to start thinking, 'Well, it could be.' Because my skin (was) almost like breaking. (It was) leaking from the wounds. (I was) missing practices."
"That's the one thing, I was still in great shape, I felt good. But I came home, I was afraid to touch my kids because (my) skin was not in a good shape," Hossa explained. "I said 'I'm not supposed to be like this. I'm not supposed to eat pills to play hockey.' Those pills are not easy pills. Those are hard pills. Every second week I have to go to (the) hospital to check my blood. If those pills don't affect me, something else (does).
“I said at what point should I be doing this to keep going? I have a life. I have a young family. I don’t want to risk it with another year with the pills on me. So I just came to the thing where I had to make a big decision and I have to be like, ‘Body says you have to stop.’”
“If you go over the issue, this would be the first thing about it, they’re checking. So, yeah, you cannot blame those people and fans of other teams. After later on, we knew maybe somebody would question this because it looks like this is how they want to write it down. But the good thing I had 20-something goals that year. I felt fresh. I would finish my career that way if I felt so good. I loved the game, I loved Chicago, I loved the fans and the organization. For me, that was tough - kind of like, ‘OK, I’m not going to play next year maybe.’
“But people look at it a different way. They didn’t understand because they didn’t see me every day. They didn’t know what I went through and these things. You cannot blame them.”
You can hear the pain in Hossa’s words. He never wanted things to end this way. Thankfully, he has no regrets. His career was an outstanding one with two Stanley Cup championships and 525 goals and 1134 points in 1309 career games split between the Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings.