PRAGUE -- Marian Hossa said he believes he could still play at an NHL level, but the forward who had to stop playing hockey after the 2016-17 season because of a progressive skin disorder and side effects from medications used to treat it, is at peace with his decision.
"It was tough because I knew I still had a lot in my tank," Hossa said Thursday. "I felt like I still got two or three years in me, I could easily play at my level. But I said, I cannot work this way because in the future, it can stop me in different ways. So that was a tough decision, but I think it was the right decision."
Hossa will be in the stands to watch his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, open the season against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2019 NHL Global Series at O2 Arena on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, NBCSP, NBCSCH, NHL.TV).
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Hossa, who was part of three Stanley Cup championship teams in Chicago (2010, 2013, 2015), spent Thursday visiting with some of his old teammates.
"I was looking forward to meeting the guys in Prague, so the day finally came to see people in the organization we had so much success with," the 40-year old said. "I maybe know five or six guys from the locker room. But the trainers, the front office, it's all the same, pretty much. It's nice to be around this, and nice to be back."
Center Jonathan Toews, forwards Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw, defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and goaltender Corey Crawford are the remaining Blackhawks who played with Hossa, who was with Chicago from 2009-17. Hossa said he's hoping to have lunch or dinner with some of them.
Shaw was hurrying to get out of his practice equipment to see Hossa.
"He was a player I watched growing up that I always looked up to, and I liked him even more when I got to play with him," Shaw said. "Just how great a guy he is and how amazing he is on the ice, not just offensively but defensively."
Hossa had 1,134 points (525 goals, 609 assists) in 1,309 career NHL games through 19 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Blackhawks. On June 21, 2017, Chicago announced Hossa had to miss the following season because of his condition. He hasn't played since.
"We certainly miss him a lot," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He brought so much to the table beyond just scoring -- he did all the things that you need a player to do to win, and I think that's why he was ... I don't want to say overshadowed all those years, because he certainly had his share of recognition, but I'm not sure there was ever the full appreciation of what he did on a nightly basis to help our team win."
Video: Marian Hossa visits his old teammates
Hossa keeps a busy life with family and his business, Hoss Sport Center, in his hometown of Trencin, Slovakia. But for these two days in Prague, it's nice to catch up with some old friends and teammates.
"I don't miss flying, don't miss meetings," Hossa said with a laugh. "There are certain things I miss, certain things I don't miss. I definitely miss this part, being around the guys in the dressing room."
Video courtesy: Chicago Blackhawks