When Marian Hossa played for the Blackhawks from 2009-17, the team won three Stanley Cups, reached the Western Conference finals four times, and never missed the playoffs.
Well, the Hawks finished sixth or seventh in their league and made it into the postseason once – and that’s only because the NHL expanded the field to 24 teams in 2020.
Certainly there were many reasons the Hawks passed away – but number 1 on the list could just be the absence of Marian Hossa, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
During his introductory speech, Hossa said that when he was kids, he and his brother Marcel would wake up in the middle of the night in Czechoslovakia to watch the Stanley Cup final.
“I found another role model in Mario (Lemieux) and in Jaromir (Jagr) I realized that a Czechoslovak kid like me can excel in the biggest league in the world and I was determined to do the same,” said Hossa .
Hossa was assisted by former Hawks defense attorneys Doug Wilson, Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Ken Holland and Kim St.-Pierre in Toronto. The 2020 class had to wait 18 months to be anchored due to COVID.
“He was great for this franchise,” said Patrick Kane of Hossa. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when he … stopped playing hockey, our team went down. He was such a good two-way player – a player I looked up to when I was one younger child was.
“Then you have a chance to play with him and he just outperformed our team and helped us bring it all together.”
Has he ever.
The 2008-09 Hawks were a thriving bunch and full of fresh talent in Kane, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Troy Brouwer and Brent Seabrook. All were 23 or younger.
These Hawks reached the final of the Western Conference and lost to Hossa’s Red Wings.
GM Dale Tallon then did what is considered the best free agent in Chicago sports history by pegging Hossa to 12 years and $ 62.8 million on July 1, 2009.
After a 40-goal season in Detroit, 30-year-old Hossa was still in his prime and, more importantly, extremely motivated. As you can see, Hossa was temptingly close to winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 and 2009, only to find himself on the losing side in Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Now he came to Chicago in the hope of making a lifelong dream come true.
Hossa was injured early in the 2009/10 season, but when he jumped on the ice for his first training session, it left an indelible mark on Kane and Versteeg.
“He only played in November and – I swear – it was like watching a Ferrari ice skate,” Versteeg told me a few months ago. “I still remember me and Kane looking at each other and we were like, ‘This is a pro player. Check him out.'”
Hossa really had it all. Not only was he a great skater, but his 207 pounds just seemed to have muscle. Not only was it literally impossible to knock him off the puck, but we can all recall instances where an opponent tried to hit Hossa only to land on his butt.
In 2009-10, Hossa scored 24 goals and had 27 assists, then added 3 scores and 12 assists in the playoffs. The goal everyone will remember came in the opening round against Nashville – a Game 5 record that gave the Hawks a 5-4 OT win just seconds after Hossa served a five-minute boarding penalty.
It gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead and they would then eliminate the Preds in Game 6.
“Going through the mistakes makes you stronger,” Hossa said upon realizing he was about to become a Hall of Famer. “I may have learned from my previous mistakes. I was just trying to take games 6 or 7 a little easier; prepare for the game like it was a normal game.”
Hossa stopped playing after the 2016-17 season due to a skin condition. He accumulated eight seasons with 30 goals and scored 40 or more three times.
“He was a great team-mate,” said Kane. “I was allowed to sit next to him in the locker room for a few years and always had fun with him. I just watched him. He behaved so well as a professional.”
Hossa was the twelfth overall winner of Ottawa in 1997. He scored 29 or more goals for nine consecutive seasons (1999-2008) and finished with 525 goals and 609 assists in 1,309 regular season games.
He added 52 goals and 97 assists in 205 playoff games. During the Hawks’ three title runs, Hossa scored 14 goals and 34 assists in 67 games.
Hossa was asked in March 2016 if he is proud of what he has achieved in the NHL.
“To be honest, when I started in the league when I was 18, I never thought about those numbers,” said Hossa. “My goal was to play in the NHL for a while and hopefully be good at it. I never thought I’d play that long. …
“Of course, my dream was to win the Stanley Cup at least once.”
A dream that has come true three times.
The icing on the cake had to be Monday when Hossa was promoted to the Hall of Fame for the best in the sport.
“It’s 1am (now) and I’ve already finished the first bottle of wine,” Hossa said the night he found out he was elected.
Greetings, Marian. You definitely deserve it.