The Chicago Blackhawks ended the 2017-18 season with many questions as the future of head coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman with the organization remained unsure until just last week, as team president finally announced they would stay with the club for next season. While question marks remains on what will take place at the draft and during free agency, many fans kept wondering about veteran forward Marian Hossa, who was greatly missed this season as the Hawks failed to clinch a playoff spot for the first time in a decade.
Last summer, Hossa announced that he would not play during the 2017-18 season because of a progressive skin disorder and side effects of medication to treat it. At the time, it was unclear if Hossa, who has three years remaining on his contract, would return following next season.
"Because of the dramatic nature of the medications required and their decreasing effectiveness, we strongly support his decision not to play during the 2017-18 season," Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said back in June. "We feel in the most certain terms this is the appropriate approach for Marian in order to keep him functional and healthy in the short term and throughout his life."
On Monday, Bowman addressed the issue and shocked many fans with his comments.
"What I do know is that his status is unchanged, so at this point there's no indication he's going to play next year, either," Bowman said. "We'll probably have more discussions on that in the coming weeks, but his medical condition is unchanged."
Hossa was one of two players - along with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul - the NHL requested undergo an independent medical evaluation in order to be placed on long-term reserve last September. He is expected to remain on LTIR unless something drastic changes.
The 39-year-old remains under contract with the Hawks through the 2020-21 season and could spend the next three years on long-term injured reserve. If the winger is unable to play again, he will end his career with 525 goals and 609 assists in 1,309 career NHL games. He is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion.
While it seems like the Hawks won't be able to count on Hossa next season, Bowman had better news on star goalie Corey Crawford, who missed most of the season with concussion-like symptoms. Bowman was somewhat confident that the goalie will return to form when he returns healthy for the 2018-2019 season.