Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa may have played his final game in the NHL due to “a serious allergic reaction to the equipment he wears,” according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The Blackhawks confirmed Wednesday morning that Hossa will sit out the 2017-18 season due to a skin condition.
This is shocking news for a player who scored 26 goals last season at the age of 38. Hossa seemed to be well on his way to continuing a successful NHL career for at least another season, but Friedman reports that “there is a legitimate possibility Hossa has played his final NHL game.”
This does not sound like some minor issue for Hossa, who has played for the Blackhawks since 2009. “The medication necessary to combat the allergy is potent enough that doctors wanted his blood tested every few weeks to make sure there were no major side effects,” Friedman writes.
This could be a complicated situation for the Blackhawks and the NHL because of the cap recapture penalties tied to Hossa’s contract. Chicago should be penalized $3.675 million per year through 2021 if Hossa retires and triggers the penalty, according to Friedman.
But it’s also possible this allows the Blackhawks to simply place Hossa on long-term injured reserve, which would remove his cap hit from their books entirely. As the report notes, there’s precedent for this with players such as Chris Pronger, Joffrey Lupul, and Stephane Robidas. The Hawks could argue Hossa is a similar case and therefore penalties should not be applied while he’s on LTIR.
No matter what, this is massive news for the Blackhawks, who could potentially free up millions in cap space for next season if Hossa is off the books. Alternatively, if Hossa’s allergy forces him to retire while triggering cap recapture, it would be a massive blow to the team.
This could be a defining story for the Blackhawks’ offseason, and a potentially sad conclusion to the career of one of the most beloved athletes in Chicago over the past decade.