Everything changed for the Chicago Blackhawks when they signed prized free agent, Marian Hossa, to a 12-year $62.8 million contract on July 1st, 2009. After the team’s first trip back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in nearly a decade in the 2008-09 season, the Hawks got all the way to the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks were back, but if they were going to hoist the Stanley Cup, they needed a little something extra. Enter Marian Hossa.
Hossa made the Blackhawks for real. They instantly went from one of the NHL’s upcoming teams to a Stanley Cup favorite. Hossa was a mentor for young Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. He was the ultimate two-way player. Number 81 was a professional in every single way on and off the ice. For a Blackhawks team that was too young to realize the moments they would enter in 2010, Marian Hossa brought the hunger.
At the 2008 trade deadline, Hossa was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins. A few months later, he found himself in the Stanley Cup Final. However, Pittsburgh came up short. Entering the 2008-09 season, Hossa had one thing on his mind: the Stanley Cup. He took a discount one-year contract and signed with the team who just beat him, the Detroit Red Wings. But, as luck would have it, the Penguins flipped the script on Detroit and won the rematch. Hossa had found himself on the wrong side in back-to-back seasons.
That hunger of coming up short twice in a row drove Hossa. It was that little bit of extra motivation for the Blackhawks. Hossa’s teammates loved him and they wanted to win the Stanley Cup for him. When the Blackhawks beat the Flyers in six games to win the Stanley Cup in 2010, Jonathan Toews could hardly get the Cup over his head before he was looking for Marian Hossa. Hossa had his Stanley Cup, and while this moment was the biggest of Hossa’s hockey life, it was just the start for him.
Marian Hossa the player can take many stories. Early in Hossa’s career, he was as dominant offensively as the game had to offer. Over a three-year stretch in Ottawa, Hossa tallied 138 goals and 274 points. His 1,134 career points rank him 57th all-time. Hossa’s 525 goals also rank him 35th in NHL history. Hossa was a dominant force with the puck on his stick.
However, the offense doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story of Marian Hossa. When Hossa came to Blackhawks, his offense took a back-seat. The Blackhawks already had players like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp who could score at ease. Hossa became more of a dominant force defensively. He took shifts against opposing teams’ top lines. He killed penalties. Hossa simply did it all, and that is what put the Blackhawks over the top.
Marian Hossa changed the Blackhawks forever. He helped make Chicago a destination spot for NHL free agents. He showed the city what great class a star athlete can play with. Marian Hossa made you proud to be a Blackhawks fan. The Blackhawks simply do not win three Stanley Cups without number 81.
Big-time players show up for big-time games and Marian Hossa was no different. The Slovakian winger ranks 30th in NHL history with 149 career playoff points in 205 games. 73 of those points came with the Blackhawks. Only Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg had more than Hossa’s 26 points during the 2008 playoffs. Hossa’s first Blackhawk playoff goal came in a big way during the 2010 playoffs.
So today, the Hockey Hall of Fame got a good one. They got one of the better two-way forwards in NHL history. They got one of the classiest guys to ever put a hockey sweater on. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a bad word to say about Marian Hossa. All of these things combined make Marian Hossa a no-brainer first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Blackhawks fans can rejoice as one of the greatest to ever don the Indianhead is enshrined in the Hall. Ottawa Senators fans can feel the enjoyment as well, as Hossa spent seven seasons there and began his career in the capital of Canada. Red Wings, Thrashers, and Penguins fans should feel joy as well because even if it’s a short amount of time, Marian Hossa leaves his mark.
Marian Hossa’s career may have been cut short, but the memories will live on forever. The three Stanley Cups. His 500th career goal. The overtime winner vs. Nashville in 2010 will forever produce goosebumps for Blackhawks fans. When number 81 is ultimately hanging from the United Center rafters, we’ll all look up and feel proud that Marian Hossa was a Blackhawk. Today, we feel pride that Marian Hossa is a Hall of Famer.