For the past couple of years, we’ve heard that Marian Hossa’s slowly declining. He’s off his game, he’s getting old, he’s going to retire, blah blah blah. He proved his critics wrong this past year, showing everyone that age is nothing but a number. He scored his 500th goal early on, hit the 1000-game milestone and made those stupid musings about his inevitable end seem light years away. But in one moment on Tuesday night, that all changed.
It was an article by Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet that began the talk – that Hossa might have to retire because he was allergic to his equipment. What?! I know people can be allergic to a lot of things (for example, I have Latex-Fruit Syndrome) but I’d never heard of that. It seemed absurd, but it also seemed like a really lousy reason for retiring.
By Wednesday morning, we got official word from Hossa:
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.
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.
To have a larger than life guy like Hossa be felled because his body is betraying him this way is heartbreaking. He’s one of those players that is universally liked. There are a handful of guys in the league like that – Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr and Patrice Bergeron instantly come to mind for me. If this forces him to retire, hockey will be poorer in his absence. He was a key factor in each of the Blackhawks’ three Stanley Cup wins, and he’s an indispensable part the team’s “core” group of players.
If he retires, he’ll definitely be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. But unless and until he makes that announcement, we’ll wish Big Hoss a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the ice again.