The 38-year-old has been fighting a progressive skin disorder for years and the severe side effects of his medication will make playing hockey an impossibility next 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,” Hossa said.
Dr. Michael Terry says the club supports Hossa’s decision, but there’s no question this has to hurt. He has only missed 46 games over the past six seasons and is one of the best defensive forwards in the league. He has earned three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks in his eight seasons with the team.
“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,” said Dr. Terry.
Hossa currently has four years to go on his current contract, which means he’ll probably hit the injured reserve list. Due to the construct of the contract, however, the club is really only the hook for a million against the cap for each of the next four years. The deal, a 12-year contract from 2009, was top-loaded and would be nearly impossible under the terms of the CBA.
But that’s not to say this is easy for Chicago.
“This is extremely difficult for us,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said, “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.”
Some of the league-wide chatter has leaned toward Hossa’s retirement, which would set the club up for cap recapture penalties. That may be why you won’t hear about his retirement just yet, even if he is effectively finished in the National Hockey League.
Another nugget in this story is that Chicago protected him in the NHL expansion draft. That signifies intent, which could be used as evidence as to the team’s interest in Hossa. In other words, it can help bolster the case that he’s not really retired as of yet.
There is precedent, too. Ask Chris Pronger and the Philadelphia Flyers. If Hossa’s situation follows course, the Blackhawks could even trade his contract somewhere to assist someone’s cap situation.
But for now, the situation stinks for Chicago. And Hossa.