Will Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa be forced to retire?

Considering Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Marian Hossa is now 38-years-old and will be sitting out the entire 2017/18 NHL season, many fans are wondering if they’ll ever see him play again. It was announced in late June that the high-scoring native of Slovakia would miss the upcoming campaign due to a skin disorder and the side effects he’s suffering from medication to treat it. Hossa still has four years to go on his current 12-year contract which he signed as a free agent in the summer of 2009.

Hossa has played eight seasons with the Blackhawks and won three Stanley Cups with the team. Like the 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr, there’s not really any sign that Hossa’s slowing down with age. He chipped in with 26 goals and 19 assists for 45 points in 73 games in the Windy City last season and was a plus-7 with seven game-winning goals. Hossa broke into the league in 1997/98 with the Ottawa Senators and has also played with the Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

He’s racked up 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games on 525 goals and 609 assists, is a plus-245 and has 85 game-winners. Hossa has also contributed 149 points in 205 playoff contests, played in five Stanley Cup finals and scored 415 of his points while playing in Chicago. His salary-cap hit is $5.275 million per year, but Blackhawks fans definitely want to see him on the ice rather than the club saving cap space by placing him on the long-term injury list.   

Hossa’s skin condition is related to an allergy the player has to his hockey equipment. He’s been treated for the problem for the past few years, but suffers from severe side effects to the treatment. It’s now become so bad that he’s going to have to sit out for a year or even longer. Skin conditions related to hockey equipment were common in the 1970s as several players developed them due to a cleaning product that was used on the equipment.

The cleaning formula was supposed to keep the equipment free from mold and mildew, but numerous players were allergic to it. Those who were developed a painful rash which was given the nickname ‘The Gunk.’ Defenceman Tom Reid of the Minnesota North Stars was one of the players who suffered from the skin rash and was forced to retire from the NHL after the 1977/78 season at the age of 31. Reid said the whole side of his body became infected and he had to wrap himself in towels when trying to sleep.

Reid went on to say that he couldn’t take any more cortisone shots to help relieve the pain and symptoms and he had to hang up his skates for good. With Hossa missing just 46 games over the last half dozen seasons it would seem that his treatments were going well for awhile or he’s used to playing through the pain and side effects. For Hossa to suddenly sit out a season, Blackhawks fans now fear the worst and are wondering if he’ll suffer the same fate as Reid or return in 2018/19.