Marian Hossa Opens Up About Skin Condition Forcing Him to Retire

As we approach the one-year mark of his official retirement from hockey, Marian Hossa has opened up about the skin condition that forced him to hang up the skates.
It was in May of 2018 when Hossa told the public that he would not play hockey anymore. His contract was dealt over to Arizona approximately two months later in an effort to gain salary relief, but make no mistake, his hockey career is over.

The Athletic posted an article where they interviewed Hossa and went in depth about his struggles with the skin condition that forced him into retirement, and it appears that it was far worse than most hockey fans expected.

He says that it all started back in 2013, where he noticed red spots popping up all over his body. The doctors had diagnosed him with eczema, a skin condition that is fairly rare in adults (1-3% approximately). This condition is characterised by red, scaly skin patches that are incredibly itchy.

Team doctors believed the condition was being caused by a combination of Hossa's sweat and the equipment, since the worst spots were around every point where the equipment was tight to his body. Eventually, the condition began to spread across his body, carried by the equipment, until it was nearly all over him.

He said that the condition, while irritating to deal with, was manageable at first, and was by no means a reason to leave his hockey career. However, things just got worse and worse for the Slovakian winger, and it reached its worst point in 2017.

Hossa represented team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and his skin got progressively worse as they made a surprisingly long run in the tournament. By the end of it, Hossa was unable to attend a dinner the night before the finals, due to his skin being in terrible shape. He said he had red blotches all over his legs and feet, and couldn't bring himself to leave his hotel room.
The eczema had intensified as well, as now it was common that it would bleed and leak pus

Eventually, when he returned to Chicago for the start of the season, a specialist recommended Cyclosporine, which is an immune-suppressant drug. The intended use of the drug was to counteract the reactions from Hossa's immune system that were causing the skin irritation. Hossa even claimed that the drug was the reason he survived the year.

However, a drug like that comes with its own host of medical risks. Possible side effects could include high blood-pressure, kidney diseases, tumours, and skin cancer. Recognising the risks of this medication, Hossa began going to the doctors every second week to be tested to ensure nothing bad was happening that he didn't notice.  The condition truly monopolised his life, in almost every way possible.

At the end of the 2017 season, when the Blackhawks were swept by the Nashville Predators in the first round, the idea of retirement crossed Hossa's mind, and he ultimately decided he was done with hockey. He told both Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman, who were both understanding and supportive of his decision, and his hockey career was now over.

He remembers asking to skip countless on-ice practices and morning skates just to avoid putting on his equipment. He would still go to the gym and train, but avoided putting on his equipment as much as he could.

His teammates, and the Blackhawks staff were all aware of this situation, but kept it a secret from the public. Coach Quenneville would always label those missed practices as "maintenance days." Hossa said Quenneville told him that they just needed him for games, and that he can just tell them when he's ready to practice. A very kind gesture by the Blackhawks bench-boss, who Hossa had nothing but good things to say about.

Towards the end of the interview, Hossa goes on to say that he is happy now, not having to take those pills. He still loves hockey and the Blackhawks organisation, but enjoys being able to spend time with his family, and not being crippled by taking immune-suppressants every day just to play.

The three-time Stanley cup champion had a 19-year long career, playing in 1309 games, scoring 1134 points in that time. This conditions really showcases his passion and dedication to hockey, and what he went through just to keep playing in the NHL. He'll likely be in the conversation for both the Hall of Fame, as well as having his number retired by the Blackhawks organisation.

To read the full article by The Athletic, click here

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