Almost exactly two years ago, we wrote a tribute to one of the finest Blackhawks players of all-time. At that time, a few days before the 2015 NHL Draft and in the wake of the Blackhawks’ third Stanley Cup championship of the decade, it was clear that the salary cap was going to force Patrick Sharp out of Chicago.
Today, fans learned that a progressive skin disorder will force another all-time great Blackhawk out of the Chicago lineup.
Marian Hossa is officially out for the 2017-18 season, but indications are that his career may be over.
He made his NHL debut before this year’s class of draft picks were born – on Oct. 1, 1997. Sadly, the vibe at the United Center as this year’s class hears their names called will be different in the wake of news that Hossa won’t be with the Hawks this season – if ever again.
On July 1, 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks shocked a lot of people by announcing they had signed Hossa. When the deal was announced, some viewed Hossa as a mercenary. He had played in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins; he had been traded to Pittsburgh by Atlanta in the final year of his contract. After losing to the Red Wings, Hossa took a one-year deal with Detroit as he chased the Cup. Of course, the Red Wings lost the 2009 Cup Final to… Pittsburgh.
So after two consecutive losing trips to the Cup Final, Hossa jumped ship to Chicago to join the up-and-coming young Blackhawks.
Hossa signed a 12-year, $62.8 million contract that, at 30, seemed crazy because of the length (hello salary cap). But nobody could argue the quality of the player Chicago – a team that had just made the playoffs for the first time in a decade with a core that was still finishing puberty – was adding.
Fast forward to late-November, when Hossa could actually step on the ice in the Indian head for the first time. Hossa came with an injury that cost him the first six weeks of the 2009-10 regular season, something that caused concern for many Hawks fans who had watched failed veteran additions in the past (Blackhawks legend Bobby Orr for example).
But Hossa came out firing and put up 51 points (24 goals, 27 assists) in 57 games in his first regular season in Chicago. He followed that with three goals and 12 assists in 22 playoff games as he skated to his third straight Stanley Cup Final.
The 2010 postseason provided many memorable moments for Hawks fans. But one may have changed the path of the franchise for the next decade, and it came from Hossa.
I was at that game, sitting in Section 302. I have never heard the United Center that loud.
Hossa got to the mountain top that year with the Blackhawks, and the first person Jonathan Toews handed the Cup was number 81.
The two seasons that followed were good for Hossa individually but the Hawks failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs. On March 20, 2012, Hossa reached 900 career regular season points – a tremendous individual accomplishment. A month later, fans feared the worst when watching Hossa taken off the ice on a stretcher after piece of shit Raffi Torres nearly decapitated Hossa during the first round of the playoffs.
Thankfully, Hossa would return to the Hawks after the lockout shortened the 2012-13 season.
Hossa played his 1,000th game during the shortened 2012-13 season, and added 16 points 22 postseason games to his resume as Chicago won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons. It was the fourth Stanley Cup Final in six seasons for Hossa.
On Oct. 30, 2014, against the Ottawa Senators franchise that drafted him 12th overall 17 years earlier, Hossa recorded his 1,000th career point.
After another 20-goal season from Hossa, the Blackhawks marched all the way to mid-June and won a third Stanley Cup championship.
On Oct. 18, 2016, Hossa finally scored his 500th career regular season goal.
If this is indeed the end of Hossa’s career, it was a remarkable run.
His career numbers will put him in the Hall of Fame easily. He played in 1,309 games, scoring 525 assists with 609 assists for 1,134 points. Hossa added 52 goals and 97 assists in 205 career postseason games, winning his three rings in Chicago.
While many initially believed the Blackhawks were going to get “only” the twilight of Hossa’s career, he still put up excellent numbers.
- Hossa appeared in 534 regular season games for the Blackhawks.
- His 415 points rank 26th in franchise history.
- His 186 goals rank 22nd in franchise history.
- He was +133 with Chicago, which ranks ninth in franchise history.
- His 29 game-winning goals are tied (with Troy Murray) for 15th in franchise history.
- His 18 short-handed goals rank fifth in franchise history.
He was a postseason monster, too.
- Hossa appeared in 107 postseason games with Chicago – tied for 13th in team history with Steve Larmer.
- His 73 postseason points ranks 11th in franchise history.
- His 21 postseason goals ranks 14th in franchise history.
- His 52 postseason assists are tied for 9th in franchise history – with Hall of Famer Pierre Pilote.
- He was +21 in the postseason, which is tied for fifth in franchise history (with B. Hull, Bickell).
- His 6 postseason game-winning goals are tied (with Larmer and Savard) for sixth in franchise history
Hossa was a warrior, who played through a lot of pain during his time in Chicago. He was a beast on the puck until his final game, reminding fans that power forwards aren’t only guys who try to put someone into the third row of seats.
Hossa was the best all-around winger to wear the Indian head since Steve Larmer, high praise if you’ve been here much in the eight years we’ve been publishing on this site. He was as fierce in the defensive areas of the ice as he was around the net offensively, always leaving it all on the ice.
Hossa represented the Blackhawks in two Winter Olympic Games (2010, 2014) with Slovakia and in one NHL All-Star Game (2012).
As David Haugh wrote for the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, no free agent signing in Chicago sports history – in any sport – has matched the impact of Hossa on the Hawks.
He started his career in Ottawa and spent almost three full years in Atlanta before the stops in Pittsburgh and Detroit. But for most, Marian Hossa will be remembered as Chicago Blackhawks three-time Stanley Cup champion.
If this is indeed the end, it was an incredible ride. On behalf of the fans, Thank You.