Chicago Blackhawks

Former Blackhawks defenseman Tom Reid discusses allergy that ended his career

Former Blackhawks defenseman Tom Reid discusses allergy that ended his career

LAS VEGAS – For Tom Reid, it started with a very small spot on his arm during the 1974-75 season. The former Blackhawks and Minnesota North Stars defenseman didn’t think much of it at the time but that small spot would develop into a serious skin condition that would end his career a few seasons later.

Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa announced in a statement on Wednesday morning that, due to severe reactions to medication he’s taking to combat a “progressive skin disorder,” he will miss the 2017-18 season.

It’s a situation that’s very familiar to Reid, whose 11-year NHL career was cut short to a similar problem.

“I played 35 to 36 games that final year because I spent so much time with the doctor,” Reid said. “They though it was a combination of my body type and the heat of my body during playing time. They tried to cool me down, squirt me with water whenever I got off the ice. All that did was add weight to my equipment. In the '77-78 season, the doctors said, ‘We’ve been given you steroids, cortisone, but can’t do it anymore. You’ll be dead by 40.’ So I stepped away.”

How long Hossa has had his disorder, how it started, where it started, is uncertain. Reid said he had absolutely no problems through the first eight seasons of his career until he developed that little spot on his arm – “it was the size of a quarter,” he said. But the spot grew until Reid had a rash from his waist to his neck. Reid added there were other players who had similar allergic reactions.

“Some figured it was the leather in the gloves and skates, but that wasn’t the case with me,” he said. “Mine was in my torso.”

[MORE: Hossa will miss upcoming season with "progressive skin disorder"]

It got to the point where Reid was in the hospital for seven or more days at a time trying to get rid of the rash. Doctors would apply Burow’s solution (a topical skin solution) to Reid every two hours. Reid had to wrap towels around his body to absorb oozing blood that could ruin his clothes. He took his equipment home and cleaned it there, hoping that would make a difference.

Even sleeping got to be incredibly difficult.

“Some nights I couldn’t lay down because on the sheets, just turning was painful. I had to sleep in a straight-back wooden chair with a sheet on me,” Reid recalled. “It was not a lot of fun.”

As of now, Hossa will miss this upcoming season. Whether or not he can return is uncertain at the time. If this is it for Hossa, however, that’s the way it may have to be. As Reid found out himself, health has to come first.

“We all know the end is going to come. Why we step away, there are different reasons. [For me,] the doctors said no more and it was an easy choice because I didn’t want to be dead by the time I was 40,” Reid said. “It’s a hard way to go out. You want to go out on top and it makes it easier when you’ve got your name on the Cup. I’m sure he’d like to continue playing but at some point, you have to say my health is more important than the game.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow


Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

Nick Schmaltz seemed to be everywhere the puck was on Saturday night. Great pursuit of the puck, great passes to Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat and an all-around confidence that’s becoming more apparent by the game.

So has coach Joel Quenneville seen what he’s needed to from Schmaltz at second-line center?

“And more.”

It’s been a pretty impressive showing for Schmaltz this month. The 21-year-old has played in all three of the Blackhawks’ preseason games and keeps getting better in each one. The uncertainty Schmaltz understandably showed as a rookie is gone; the NHL game no longer feels uncomfortable.

“I feel like the game’s slowing down for me, just seeing plays,” Schmaltz said. “I know what I’m doing with the puck before I get it. It feels good and just trying to get better every day.”

Schmaltz and his fellow second liners didn’t connect for goals in the Blackhawks 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The three combined for 12 of the Blackhawks’ 54 shots on goal – Kane and DeBrincat each had five – and the chemistry continues to build between the three.

Jonathan Toews talked on Saturday morning of how much more relaxed Schmaltz looks with the puck now, and that was evident again later that night.

“He’s really starting to get comfortable physically at this level,” Toews said. “He thinks the game so well, puts himself in good spots, much like Kaner where he can skate with the puck and use his speed. He has his head up so he backs guys off. Those two were making great plays tonight and Brinksy was fitting in well. They couldn’t buy a goal but Schmaltzy’s getting better and better, and you’re’ seeing that calm poise that he has really come out the more he gets comfortable.”

Schmaltz was likely getting a second-line audition in some capacity this fall; the original thought was at left wing in the wake of Artemi Panarin’s trade. But Schmaltz has always felt at his best at center. He’s showing that. And more.

“It’s always fun to play no matter if it’s preseason or regular season," he said. "I’m always happy to play, especially when you’re playing with great players. I feel like I’m more comfortable in the middle, able to use my speed a little bit more, create more offense that way.

"I think it’s going well. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”