CHICAGO -- How do you replace Marian Hossa?
The Chicago Blackhawks must answer that question after learning Wednesday that the right wing will miss the 2017-18 NHL season with a progressive skin disorder and side effects from medications used to treat it.
After listening to Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville at United Center on Thursday, one thing was clear: Replacing Hossa will not be easy, on or off the ice.
"I don't think you replace [Hossa], because he's a special player," said Quenneville, who's been the coach during Hossa's eight seasons in Chicago. "We don't want to say we're going to go look for a Marian Hossa. We're very fortunate the way we did acquire him [as a free agent in 2009] and how he's played when we did have him, so, it's tough to say … but I don't think you're going to find him [again], unfortunately."
Hossa, 38, has 1,134 points (525 goals, 609 assists) in 1,309 games with the Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. He ranks 34th in NHL goals, 80th in assists, 54th in points, and 60th in games played. He has 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 73 points (21 goals, 52 assists) in 107 postseason games with the Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
"He was a huge part of the Stanley Cup victories, so it's a huge loss, obviously," Bowman said. "It's a little bit early to predict what we're going to do. I think we've got a lot of things we've got to sort through. It's certainly been a busy couple days as we look at different options."
The Blackhawks will likely seek relief against the NHL salary cap, expected to be about $75 million, by placing Hossa on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). His contract has four years remaining and carries an annual salary-cap charge of $5.275 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
Video: Marian Hossa will miss entire 2017-18 season
Bowman said it's too early to figure out how much the Blackhawks could potentially exceed the salary cap during the season, citing differences between offseason LTIR and in-season LTIR. He said it won't be as easy as swapping Hossa's cap charge for a player whose contract carries a similar amount.
"I wish it were that simple, but it's not," Bowman said. "[LTIR] is a much more complicated provision than people think. It's not some easy cap solution where we just go sign a player for the same amount and off we go. It's much more problematic than that."
Replacing Hossa's leadership and experience, built over 19 NHL seasons, will be just as difficult.
After signing with the Blackhawks as an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2009, Hossa joined a roster full of elite, young players who needed mentoring. That included Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
"These guys aren't young anymore, but Toews and Kane and Seabrook and Keith … they were all young guys sort of trying to learn their way in the NHL," Bowman said. "Here we have Marian come in, and he handles every situation with the perfect amount of humility and class. He was a great role model for our players."
He was also a luxury for the coaching staff. Quenneville said Hossa's reliability in all game situations is rare for a player with his skill level and will be greatly missed.
"He was one of those players that you really have an appreciation for as a coach," Quenneville said. "[He] does a lot of things that can help your team grow and [play] the right way. He did it for so long for us. We're very fortunate. [We] got a little spoiled with him over the years as well."