NHLer who retired after suffering from skin condition opens up

Former NHL player Tom Reid on HC@Noon to discuss playing through and eventually retiring from same skin disorder Marian Hossa is currently suffering from.

Tom Reid isn’t sure if Marian Hossa is suffering from the same condition he dealt with back in the 1970s, but the former NHL defenceman can empathize.

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Wednesday that Hossa will miss the 2017–18 season as a result of side effects from medication he’s been taking to treat a progressive skin condition he has been suffering from for years.

Reid, who suited up for both the Blackhawks and the Minnesota North Stars during an 11-year career, suffered from a skin condition that eventually ended his playing career.

“I don’t know if it’s similar or not,” Reid said when he joined Sportsnet 590 the FAN’s Hockey Central @ Noon on Wednesday. “All I know is it’s a condition that’s progressively getting worse for Marian, and that’s what it was for me also.”

Reid offered a graphic description of his own condition: “The part of my body that was affected the most was my torso from my waist to my upper chest area,” he said. “It was just a situation where I had no skin.”

The native of Fort Erie, Ont., said it was only in the final three years of his career that the condition “exploded.” He tried all sorts of remedies and would change his equipment and clothing constantly. He would also regularly wear a towel wrapped around his torso to absorb the fluid emerging from his skin.

“I had to step away from the team a number of times during the course of the year,” Reid said of his final season in 1977–78. “I think I played 35 or 36 games that year because I spent a lot of time in the hospital.”

His skin would clear up after an extended stay in the hospital, but as soon as he returned to the ice, the condition came back.

While Reid wasn’t the only hockey player to suffer from a skin condition in the ’70s — in that era, they called it “The Gunk” — he reached a turning point when his doctors warned him of the consequences of extended treatment.

“It got to the point that finally the doctors said, you know, we can’t do this anymore because we’re giving you steroids, we’re giving you cortisone shots. You’ll be dead by the time you’re 40,” he said. Reid chose to leave the game.

To this day, Reid still doesn’t know what it was that caused the condition. He just knows it was so bad there was nothing he could do but walk away from the game.

“It just got to the point that I couldn’t continue,” he said.

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