"CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 12: Marian Hossa"
Marian Hossa may be stepping out of hockey under suspicious circumstances, but much of that is out of his control. He’s also the kind of player and person that doesn’t come along every day. No matter how it came to be, today we honor Hossa for a long and successful career.
It’s been almost two weeks since the Chicago Blackhawks and Marian Hossa announced he will be sitting out the 2017-18 season due to a progressive skin disorder. As the story has unfolded, it appears Hossa’s career is over. Have you gotten used to this yet? Has the sting gone away at all? Me neither.
As of now, Hossa won’t officially retire; instead he will be placed on long-term injured reserve to start the season. Many object to this situation, saying the Hawks are circumventing the system to avoid recapture penalties against their already strapped cap.
Yeah, well, that’s pretty much what’s happening. I sat here for a while and tried to figure out a way to paint this in a different light, but finally decided against it. After all, it’s pretty hard to hide the obvious. What I can do is give a little perspective to the situation.
When the Hawks signed Hossa to this contract in 2009, they had no intention of having him play through 2021, when he would be 42-years old. It was heavily front-loaded, so Hossa could make most of his money right away. According to Mark Lazerus of the Sun Times, he’s earned almost 95% of his owed salary, even though his 12-year contract runs for four more years.
But these were the kind of things they could do back then. A contract like this one is outdated. After the 2012 lockout, the rules were changed to avoid this exact type of situation (hence the recapture penalties). At the time, the Hawks weren’t the only team doing this. Why wouldn’t they make a deal that fit within the constraints of the time?
And then there’s Hossa himself. He’s 38-years old, getting ready for the grind of yet another season. He has an uncomfortable skin condition he’s been quietly dealing with for the last few years. Doctors now tell him it’s detrimental to his health to carry on.
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He’s played in the NHL for 19 years, since he was 19-years old. He’s a member of the 500 goal club. He’s participated in 205 playoff games. He’s won three Stanley Cups. He’s a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. He started his career as an offensive dynamo, and then adjusted to a heavy two-way style of play later in his career. He’s been a mentor on and off the ice. He’s made a lot of money. In short, he’s done just about everything there is to do.
He’s tired. Perhaps it’s just time to go home.
So what is Hossa supposed to do when approached to go on LTIR instead of retire? No, Stan, I want to retire with no questions. I don’t want to help you, who supported me and took care of me for the last eight years. I don’t want to help my teammates that are the only world I’ve ever known.
Of course not! What other choice does Hossa really have? He’s always been the competitive, humble, and loyal guy who would take one for the team. This serves as his final assist.