Will Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa be forced to retire?

Considering Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Marian Hossa is now 38-years-old and will be sitting out the entire 2017/18 NHL season, many fans are wondering if they’ll ever see him play again. It was announced in late June that the high-scoring native of Slovakia would miss the upcoming campaign due to a skin disorder and the side effects he’s suffering from medication to treat it. Hossa still has four years to go on his current 12-year contract which he signed as a free agent in the summer of 2009.
Hossa has played eight seasons with the Blackhawks and won three Stanley Cups with the team. Like the 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr, there’s not really any sign that Hossa’s slowing down with age. He chipped in with 26 goals and 19 assists for 45 points in 73 games in the Windy City last season and was a plus-7 with seven game-winning goals. Hossa broke into the league in 1997/98 with the Ottawa Senators and has also played with the Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
He’s racked up 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games on 525 goals and 609 assists, is a plus-245 and has 85 game-winners. Hossa has also contributed 149 points in 205 playoff contests, played in five Stanley Cup finals and scored 415 of his points while playing in Chicago. His salary-cap hit is $5.275 million per year, but Blackhawks fans definitely want to see him on the ice rather than the club saving cap space by placing him on the long-term injury list.   
Hossa’s skin condition is related to an allergy the player has to his hockey equipment. He’s been treated for the problem for the past few years, but suffers from severe side effects to the treatment. It’s now become so bad that he’s going to have to sit out for a year or even longer. Skin conditions related to hockey equipment were common in the 1970s as several players developed them due to a cleaning product that was used on the equipment.
The cleaning formula was supposed to keep the equipment free from mold and mildew, but numerous players were allergic to it. Those who were developed a painful rash which was given the nickname ‘The Gunk.’ Defenceman Tom Reid of the Minnesota North Stars was one of the players who suffered from the skin rash and was forced to retire from the NHL after the 1977/78 season at the age of 31. Reid said the whole side of his body became infected and he had to wrap himself in towels when trying to sleep.

Reid went on to say that he couldn’t take any more cortisone shots to help relieve the pain and symptoms and he had to hang up his skates for good. With Hossa missing just 46 games over the last half dozen seasons it would seem that his treatments were going well for awhile or he’s used to playing through the pain and side effects. For Hossa to suddenly sit out a season, Blackhawks fans now fear the worst and are wondering if he’ll suffer the same fate as Reid or return in 2018/19.     

Future of Carolina Hurricanes up in the air

It’s no secret the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes are up for sale, but the team’s fans are worried the franchise may be relocated elsewhere such as Quebec City or Seattle if it’s eventually sold. With the club making several offseason improvements its fans believe the future is bright and are worried what might happen if owner Peter Karmanos Jr. sheds his interest in the franchise. Karmanos originally bought the club back in 1994 for just $47.5 and recent reports hint that attorney Chick Greenberg, a former CEO of the Texas Rangers is interested in acquiring the Hurricanes for approximately $500 million.
The Hurricanes have improved on the ice this summer by acquiring goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks as well as centre Markus Kruger and defenceman Trevor van Riemsdyk from the Vegas Golden Knights and free agent forward Justin Williams from the Washington Capitals. It’s obvious that Carolina is intending to compete now and fans don’t want to miss out on the action. The Hurricanes have confirmed that an offer for the club has been received, but have been tight-lipped about any other details.
Karmanos stated that he’s considering all of his options and may very well decide to keep the club. Since the Hurricanes have been losing money recently, rumours about the team relocating have run rampant. The team’s attendance has been among the worst in the NHL over the past three years as Carolina ranked 29TH out of 30 in 2014/15 at 12,594, was last in 2015/16 at 12,203 and ranked 30th again last season with just 11,776 fans per home game. With attendance dropping every year Karmanos is hoping the offseason moves made by general manager Ron Francis will result in bigger crowds as the team pushes for a playoff spot after missing the postseason for the past eight years.
It’s believed Greenberg would keep the Hurricanes in Raleigh, but there are plenty of naysayers who don’t believe any such offer was made for the franchise. Something needs to be done to stop the bleeding though as the team averaged over 16,300 fans per game between 2005/06 to 2013/14. Carolina won the Stanley Cup in 2005/06, but made the playoffs just once after that and it appears ticket buyers are getting fed up with the continuous losing. Doubters don’t believe Greenberg has offered $500 million for a team which cost $47.5 million 23 years ago and then moved to Carolina from Hartford in 1997.
In the 2016/17 season, the value of the Hurricanes franchise was estimated at $230 million by Forbes, which was the lowest of all 30 NHL teams. Critics believe a new practice facility is needed and eventually the team’s arena will need to be upgraded or replaced and it doesn’t make sense for Greenberg to pay twice the going rate of the franchise. They believe he may purchase the club and eventually pump a total of $500 million into it, but the cost of the franchise will be nowhere near that price. Forbes also reported the Hurricanes lose approximately $15 million per season and are $200 million in debt.

Greenberg was a part owner of the Texas Rangers as he joined forces with Nolan Ryan to buy the MLB team in 2010. He became the team’s CEO, but left soon after and sold his shares of the franchise. Hurricanes’ fans don’t really care who owns the club as their main concern is that it remains in Raleigh. The on-ice future appears to be bright for the next few seasons, but it won’t mean a thing to the Carolina faithful if the players are hoisting the Stanley Cup in Quebec or Seattle.   

NHL’s top 2016/17 rookies recognized by league

There’s been so much activity in the NHL over the past few weeks that it may have been easy to miss some of the more important announcements. The league handed out its annual awards in Las Vegas recently and also announced the 2016/17 All-Rookie Team. The rookie team included all three players who were finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy this year as Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski made the team along with centre Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine.
Matthews’ Toronto teammate Mitch Marner also made the squad along with New York Rangers defenceman Brady Skjei and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Voting for the All-Rookie Team and the annual awards was done by the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) when the regular season concluded.
Goaltender Matt Murray has already won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, but this was his official rookie season. He posted a 32-10-4 record this year with a 92.3 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average. He also recorded four shutouts in his 49 games. He’s the first rookie goalie to win 30 games since 2010/11 when Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks achieved it. The 23-year-old Murray’s 32 wins were also a rookie record for the Penguins franchise.
Brady Skjei of the Rangers is probably the least-known member of the rookie squad. He was chosen with the 28thselection in the 2012 draft and the 23-year-old ranked second in scoring for rookie defenceman this season. He scored five goals and 34 assists in 80 games and was a plus-11. Skjei became the top-scoring Rangers rookie blueliner since Brian Leetch had 71 points in 1988/89.
Zach Werenski was the league’s top rookie defenceman this season as he scored 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points in Columbus. He played 78 games and was also the best rookie blueliner when it came to plus/minus as he was a plus-17. The 19-year-old was drafted eighth overall in 2015 and he’s now ranked sixth overall for points by a teenaged rookie defender in NHL history. He also set new franchise records for rookie points and assists in Columbus and his 47 points is ranked second ever for points by a blue Jackets defenceman.
Winger Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets was chosen second overall in the 2016 draft and he was ranked second in rookie scoring last season with 36 goals and 28 assists for points in his 73 outings. His goals and points totals were rookie records for the Jets franchise. Laine led all rookies with a 17.6 shooting percentage and tied for power play goals with nine. He was top-10 in the league when it came to game-winning goals, shots on goal, and power-play assists and points. He also became the first player in league history to score three hat-tricks before turning 19 years old.
Mitch Marner was drafted fourth overall by Toronto in 2015 and the 20-year-old led all first-year players in assists with 42. He also had 19 goals for 61 points in 77 contests. Marner was top-10 in rookie power play assists, goals and points as well as goals, game-winning goals, points and shots on goal. He set a new Maple Leafs franchise record for assists by a rookie and with fellow first-year players William Nylander and Auston Matthews; Toronto became the second NHL team ever to have three rookies with at least 60 points in the same campaign.

Auston Matthews won the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year and was the first overall pick in the 2016 draft by Toronto. He finished the season with 40 goals and 29 assists for 69 points in 82 games. He led all rookies in goals and points and his 40 goals ranked tied for second in league scoring. Matthews set a new franchise record for rookie goals and points and became the first NHL player in the modern era to score four times in his first league game. The 19-year-old led all rookies in game-winning goals with eight and shots on goal with 279. Matthews was top-10 for rookie power-play goals, assists and points as well as overall shooting percentage, and assists.

Most NHL free agents already snapped up

It didn’t take long for NHL teams to get into the free agent frenzy as numerous teams started tinkering with and fine tuning their rosters on July 1st. There were some big-name-players available as well as some lesser-known’s as well as seasoned veterans and relatively inexperienced players. Some were signed for the league’s minimum annual salary and others inked multi-year multimillion dollar deals.
In case you missed anything, we’ll recap all the major 2017 unrestricted free agent signings up until lunchtime on July 3rd.
Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks signed goaltender Ryan Miller from Vancouver to a two-year deal. They also made some minor moves by inking Steve Oleksy, Mike Liambas, Derek Grant and Scott Sabourin.
Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes signed defenceman Adam Clendening from the New York Rangers for a year while forward Nick Cousins signed for two years from Philadelphia.
Boston Bruins
The Bruins inked Kenny Agostino, Paul Postma and Jordan Szwarz to one-year deals.
Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres signed forward Benoit Pouliot from Edmonton, forward Seth Griffith from Toronto and goaltender Chad Johnson from Arizona to one-year contracts while Defenceman Matt Tennyson left Carolina and signed for two years.
Calgary Flames
Calgary signed forwards Marek Hrivik from the New York Rangers and Luke Gazdic from New Jersey to one-year contracts.
Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes inked forward Justin Williams from Washington to a two-year deal. They also agreed to terms with forward Josh Jooris and defencemen Brenden Kitchon and Dennis Robertson.
Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks re-signed forward Patrick Sharp from Dallas for a year and added forward Tommy Wingels from Ottawa for a season. In addition, the team came to terms with goaltender J-F Berube from Vegas and forward Lance Bouma.
Colorado Avalanche
Colorado signed goaltender Jonathan Bernier from Anaheim to a one-year contract and also signed Andrew Agozzino, Joe Cannata and David Warsofsky.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus signed defenseman Cameron Gaunce from Pittsburgh to a two-year deal and defenceman Andre Benoit for one year.
Dallas Stars
The Stars acquired forward Martin Hanzal from Minnesota for three years and re-signed defenceman Patrick Nemeth.
Detroit Red Wings
The Wings signed defenceman Trevor Daley from Pittsburgh to a three-year deal.
Florida Panthers
The Panthers inked forward Evgeny Dadonov from Russia and signed forward Radim Vrbata from Arizona to a one-year contract and forward Micheal Haley from San Jose to a two-year deal.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings signed forward Michael Cammalleri from New Jersey to a one-year contract while defenceman Christian Folin from Minnesota agreed to a one-year deal and goaltender Darcy Kuemper from Minnesota agreed to a one-year deal.
Minnesota Wild
The Wild signed goaltender Niklas Svedberg from Sweden and defenseman Kyle Quincey from Columbus to year-long contracts. Forward Kyle Rau inked a one-year deal while forwards Cal O’Reilly and Landon Ferraro were signed for two years.
Montreal Canadiens
The Habs signed defenseman Karl Alzner from Washington for five-years and centre Peter Holland from Arizona for two years. They also inked forward Byron Froese and defenceman Matt Taormina to two-year deals.
Nashville Predators
Nashville signed forward Nick Bonino from Pittsburgh to a four-year contract and forward Scott Hartnell from Columbus for a year. They also signed goaltenders Anders Lindback and Matt O’Connor to one-year deals as well as forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils signed forward Brian Boyle from Toronto to a two-year deal.
New York Rangers
The Rangers signed defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk from Washington for four years and signed goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from Winnipeg for a season.
Ottawa Senators
Ottawa signed forward Nate Thompson from Anaheim to a two-year deal.
Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers agreed to terms with goaltender Brian Elliott from Calgary on a two-year contract and signed forwards Mike Vecchione, Phil Varone and Corban Knight to two-year contracts.
Pittsburgh Penguins
The Stanley Cup champs signed goaltender Antti Niemi from the Rangers and added defenceman Matt Hunwick from Toronto for three seasons. Defenceman Justin Schultz also re-signed for three years.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks re-signed forward Joe Thornton for one more year.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues inked forwards Chris Thorburn, Beau Bennett and Oskar Sundqvist to one-year deals.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa signed defenseman Dan Girardi from the Rangers to a two-year contract after New York bought him out. They also signed goaltender Michael Leighton from Carolina and forwards Chris Kunitz from Pittsburgh and Alex Gallant to one-year contracts. Defenceman Mat Bodie and Jamie McBain also inked year-long deals.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs re-signed goaltenders Curtis McElhinney and Garret Sparks to two-year deals. They also signed defenseman Ron Hainsey from Pittsburgh for two years as well as forward Dominic Moore from Boston for one year and forward Patrick Marleau from San Jose for three years. They also inked forwards Colin Greening, Vincent LoVerde and Chris Mueller.
Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver signed defenceman Michael Del Zotto from Philadelphia while forward Sam Gagner from Columbus inked a three-year contract. Goaltender Anders Nilsson signs from Buffalo for two years and forward Alex Burmistrov signed from Arizona for a year along with defenceman Patrick Wierioch from Colorado. Forward Anton Rodin was also re-signed for a year.
Washington Capitals
Washington re-signed forwards Brett Connolly and Evgeny Kuznetsov. They also inked forward John Albert for a year.

Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg signed goaltender Steve Mason from Philadelphia to a two-year contract while forwards Michael Sgarbossa and Buddy Robinson signed for one year and defenceman Dmitry Kulikov signed from Buffalo for three years. In addition, defenseman Cameron Schilling inked a one-year, two-way deal.