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.”

Blackhawks' Corey Crawford heating up just in time for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Blackhawks' Corey Crawford heating up just in time for Stanley Cup Playoffs

The biggest storyline of Blackhawks training camp 2.0 was Corey Crawford missing the first 12 days because he had tested positive for COVID-19. He showed up on the final practice day in Chicago, which was exactly one week from the start of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Blackhawks did everything they could to get him ready for Game 1, but you knew it would take him a while to get back into top form. And it has.

In the first three games against the Oilers, Crawford allowed 13 goals on 92 shots for a save percentage of .859 and had a minus-5.68 goals saved above average, according to Natural Stat Trick, which ranked dead last among all goaltenders. 

But when the Blackhawks needed him most in Game 4, Crawford delivered. 

The two-time Stanley Cup champion turned aside 41 of 43 shots for a save percentage of .953 in Friday’s 3-2 series-clinching win against the Oilers, including all 18 in the third period, a handful of which came from high-danger areas.

"He's a huge part of our team and he played real well today," Dominik Kubalik said. "I thought he was our best player."

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To take it a step further: Crawford stopped 16 of 18 shots from the slot and had nine saves from the inner slot, which is the third-most in a game by any goaltender this postseason, according to Sportlogiq. The Oilers had an expected goals for rate of 4.33 but scored only twice, which means Crawford saved the Blackhawks 2.33 goals.

It was a vintage performance between the pipes for No. 50.

"Obviously it wasn't the best scenario," Crawford said of having just one week to get ramped up for the qualifying round. "I would have liked to have had a few more weeks of practice and see more pucks coming into the series. But it is what it is. I think I felt way better each game, playing each game and just seeing different scenarios and situations. Once you get more of that, just the better you feel. Tonight was obviously better."

Despite turning in a terrific outing on Friday, Crawford admitted “there’s still some work to do” before he feels like in peak form. But if he gets there in time for the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks could be a dangerous underdog team.

"I was able to kind of hide back there until I started feeling comfortable," Crawford said. "Still don't think I'm at the top of my game, but it was definitely better today."

Podcast: Blackhawks move on with 3-2 series-clinching win over the Oilers

Podcast: Blackhawks move on with 3-2 series-clinching win over the Oilers

It's been 5 years since the Hawks have won a playoff series and it feels so good. Host Pat Boyle is joined by Blackhawks analyst Steve Konroyd as they discuss the series-clinching Game 4 win over the Oilers, the importance of the win, and a look ahead to what's next for the Hawks.

(1:10) - Hawks were given a lottery ticket into the playoffs this year

(6:41) - Hawks still need to fix a few things

(10:00) - Jeremy Colliton tried 2 different lines with Kane in the series

(15:30) - The young players on the Hawks stepped up big this series

(18:48) - How do the Hawks match up against the Vegas Knights and Colorado Avalanche?

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.