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Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa May Be Forced To Retire

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Apr 20, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) and right winger Marian Hossa (81) line up for a face off during the first period against the Nashville Predators in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) and right winger Marian Hossa (81) line up for a face off during the first period against the Nashville Predators in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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Strange and unsettling news broke late Tuesday regarding Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa and his future in the NHL

Twitter was aflutter late Tuesday with news that Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa might be forced to retire for a very odd reason. The 38-year-old is reportedly in a difficult spot as a result of a severe allergic reaction to his hockey equipment.

This news was pushed out by SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman, with Blackhawks beat writers quickly working to verify the information. Hossa’s agent, Ritch Winter, declined to comment on the situation, as did the Blackhawks.

Now, there’s a lot to unpack here. But the immediate assumption from non-Blackhawks fans who are not in some sort of media position is that the Blackhawks are trying to find a way to skirt the salary cap. As Friedman notes:

"But it would not come without controversy. The Blackhawks signed him to a 12-year, $63.3-million deal in 2009, which carries an annual average value of $5.275 million. It is, however, a back-diving contract, a structure that was heavily penalized in the 2013 CBA.Hossa is scheduled to be paid $1 million during each of the next four seasons, meaning almost 94 per cent of his contract is already paid. If he were to retire now, the Blackhawks would be hit with what are called “cap recapture” penalties — $3.675 million off their club’s cap number from next season until 2020-21. For a team already facing a crunch, that’s a massive blow."

So what could the Blackhawks do to avoid this, should Hossa need to retire? They could put him on long-term injured reserve, a move utilized in the past for such players as Chris Pronger, Joffrey Lupul, Nathan Horton and Marc Savard, among others.

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In that instance, the Blackhawks would not face either a cap recapture penalty or having to carry the brunt of Hossa’s contract. And that’s something opposing fans and opposing teams would be up in arms about, despite other teams using this measure in this past.

More words from social media

Two interesting topics came up as a result of this report about Hossa. The first involved former NHL defenseman Tom Reid, who was forced to retire in the late 1970s as a result of an allergic reaction he had to his hockey equipment.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus linked to a story about Reid’s condition.

The other interesting note came from Tomas Prokop, who covers Hossa in the latter’s home country of Slovakia. Prokop expressed surprise about the Hossa report.

So this is coming from someone who’s been watching over Hossa since the Blackhawks’ 2016-17 season ended. It leads to tons of speculation about what’s actually going on with the veteran forward.

We could find out what’s going on sooner rather than later, if the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine is on the right track.

Should Hossa have to retire, this would be a very sad end to a career that will likely get the man into hockey’s Hall of Fame. Hossa was a key piece for the Blackhawks as they ended a 49-year Stanley Cup drought in 2010 before winning the silver chalice in 2013 and 2015 as well.

Next: Blackhawks Fans Must Prep For Offseason Heartbreak

Hossa broke into the league in 1997-98 with the Ottawa Senators. He recently completed his 19th NHL season, eighth with the Blackhawks. He has 1,134 regular-season points in 1,309 games to go with 149 postseason points in 205 contests.

Updated. Early Wednesday morning the Chicago Blackhawks released this statement that Marian Hossa will not play this upcoming season.

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