According to several sources, there is a legitimate possibility Hossa has played his final NHL game. (He could not be reached for comment. Neither could his agent, Ritch Winter. The Blackhawks declined to comment.) Apparently, he suffers from a serious allergic reaction to the equipment he wears.
The sources who confirmed the allergy stressed not to make fun of it, with one saying, “It’s only funny to anyone who’s never had it.” Details are sketchy, because no one would give full information, but 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.
The 38-year-old future Hall of Famer has been taking medicine to deal with the allergy, but doctors are wary about the long-term effects.
Hossa is not the first NHL player to suffer from a severe reaction to equipment. Tom Reid estimates he was one of 40 forced into an early retirement due to “gunk” in the 1970s and 1980s.
If Hossa is experiencing similar symptoms as Reid, it sounds like an awful ordeal.
It took away a layer of skin from his neck to his waist and was caused, he said, by the combination of friction and sweat. He first noticed it during the 1974-75 season when a quarter-sized spot appeared on his left arm.
He remembers sleeping upright in a wooden chair because his skin would stick to his sheets. When he wrapped himself in towels, same result.
Hossa has four years left on his deal and may possibly go on long-term injured reserve instead of retiring to help the Hawks’ cap situation — if allowed.