The Chicago Blackhawks have announced that veteran forward Marian Hossa will not return next season due to a progressive skin disorder.
At age 38, it’s unlikely Hossa will ever play again. It’s a sad end to a great career (Hossa’s a lock for the Hall of Fame) and a convenient move for the cap-strapped Chicago Blackhawks.
Hossa’s condition is unfortunate. Auto-immune disorders are often nebulous, painful, and difficult to treat. Personal health conditions should be private and beyond reproach.
The conduct of the Blackhawks and NHL, however, is not. They don’t deserve a good faith treatment.
With a salary cap hit of $5.275 million through 2020-21, Hossa’s contract is a disaster for the Blackhawks, who are already over the cap for next season. The deal itself is a relic of the previous collective-bargaining agreement: a back-loaded contract that would satisfy the player without hurting the team in his later years. After the 2013 lockout and the new CBA it spawned, teams with that sort of contract would be punished if the player retired early, in what’s called a cap recapture penalty.
With Hossa presumably moving to long-term injured reserve for the remainder of his contract, the Blackhawks have avoided that penalty — similar to how Arizona and Philadelphia dealt with Chris Pronger’s contract after he could no longer play due to concussion issues. Hossa’s health has saved the team from a difficult offseason.
So, in short:
The NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks, never pillars of ethical fortitude, look even worse now. Suspicion is justified, even as we wish the best for Hossa.
Statement from Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian 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.
Statement from Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman:
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.
Statement from Chicago Blackhawks Team Physician Dr. Michael Terry:
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.
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