Marian Hossa is the start, the middle, and the end of my blog title.
No, it is not a complete sentence, but it's a statement and a nod of recognition to one of the best – if not the best – all-around players I've ever seen play the game of hockey.
I do love myself a flashy player, however, even since I was a kid, I always seemed to gravitate towards the high=character, responsible, 200-foot guys.
Joel Quenneville used to call him the perfect hockey player and it's overall skill set, along with his impressive career numbers (1134 points in 1309 games) that have gotten him into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hossa wasn't always this way though and that's what's so impressive.
During his time in Ottawa and Atlanta, he was more of a purely offensive player, although you could see him dial it up defensively at times.
It was his time in Pittsburgh and more specifically in Detroit where Hossa himself claimed he learned the art of defence from Pavel Datsyuk, did Hossa transform into – what I deem as the as close to the perfect hockey player as you can get.
I watched him closely at this time and boy was I excited when the Hawks signed Marian on July 1st, 2009 because I knew he was the complete package.
His career started when he was drafted by Ottawa in 12th overall in 1997. Hossa cracked the Sens lineup but for just 7 games. Luckily for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, they had drafted Hossa out of the import draft that summer in hopes that if he didn't remain with the Senators the Slovakian stud could join them for the 1997-98 season.
Well, that's exactly what happened and the offensive force of Hossa (85 points in 53 games) propelled the Winterhawks into the playoffs and all the way to the Memorial Cup finals.
Hossa was injured in the late in the 3rd period in the last game, however, his mates were still able to clinch the championship in OT. They then pushed the injured Hossa around in a chair as they celebrated.
That's how much Hossa meant to his teammates and it's not just because of how skilled he was but due to his genuine nature and leadership qualities.
Throughout his career, Hossa went through contract hold outs (a couple of weeks in 2001 when with OTT), an unfortunate injury in which Hossa was the culprit (Bryan Berard getting a stick to his eye on a Hossa follow through), injuries himself, and 5 Stanley Cup finals (we know that story).
I wasn't sure whether Hoss would get in on the first try because some outside of Chicago truly don't appreciate how good this guy was in every aspect of the game of hockey.
And, to top it all off, they don't know how amazing of a person he is. Don't take it from me; I loved Kris Versteeg's comments – he spoke to John Dietz of the Daily Herald on the Hossa HHOF news:
"If you watched his entire game, that's where you get the true appreciation of the extra dynamic he could bring to a team," Versteeg said. "That alone gets him into the Hall of Fame. Because everything that he did away from the puck changed outcomes of each and every game. ...
"And not only that, I think it changed a little bit of hockey in itself. Just seeing a star player work that hard to get back was so impressive. ... That was always attributed to him because anywhere I went they always showed clips of Marian Hossa."
There were some other former teammates that had some very complimentary words for #81:
There isn't a doubt that the Blackhawks miss Marian Hossa.
However, I'm not sure the Hawks or the fans would realize how much his absence would affect the Hawks when it was announced on May 19th, 2018.
Hossa's unique skillset, drive, hockey sense, and his quiet leadership abilities are near irreplaceable – although if the Hawks find anyone remotely close to him they need to hold on for dear life to said player.
The best they might get is when Hossa ultimately comes back to the Blackhawks organization in some coaching, scouting, and/or ambassador compacity. It has been discussed already with Stan and Co. and sounds like there is mutual interest there.
Hossa's dad was a coach, so I wonder if coaching is in his blood? Whatever he decides, I feel like the Hawks will get an immediate boost when/if he joins the team again.
I will end my Hossa acknowledgement with the famous replay of his biggest goal vs. Nashville:
Congrats to an amazing Hall of Famer career Hoss!
Lastly, I wanted to say thank you to the two amazing blogs that Theo wrote last week. He is a natural and I better be careful or he may just steal my spot.