Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blackhawks' Marian Hossa Hits Another Milestone In His Long Career

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)

If not for Jaromir Jagr, Chicago Blackhawks' right winger, Marian Hossa would arguably be the oldest player in the league that is still making a major impact in scoring production for his team, and shows no signs of stopping.  Hossa, who recently turned 38, hit another milestone in his career as he recorded his 600th career assist Wednesday night in Colorado.  A night where he recorded 3 assists and was a +4.  On the season, Hossa, in 41 games has 28 points (16G 12A).

Hossa was thought to be on a down swing in his career as he posted a career low in goals (13) last season, and missed 18 games to injury.  In the playoff series against the St. Louis Blues last season, where the Blackhawks were eliminated in 7 games, Hossa found himself playing on the 3rd line.  He is currently in the 8th year of a 12 year contract worth $63.3 million.  This year he has found new energy and is averaging over 17 minutes of ice time a game.  His shooting percentage has more than doubled (17.4%), compared to his previous two seasons (8.9%, 6.8%)

Hossa was drafted 12th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.  He quickly became a star there averaging nearly 27 goals in his 7 year career there.  He also finished second in Rookie of the Year honors for the Calder Trophy to Chris Drury of the Colorado Avalanche.  He then went to the expansion Atlanta Thrashers, where he scored 100 points in the 2006-07 season.  He was then traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline the following year to make a run at the Stanley Cup.  Although he made it to the Finals, the Penguins fell to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.  Eager to get himself a Stanley Cup, he then hopped over to the Red Wings on a one year deal to finally quench his thirst for the Cup.  Again, Detroit and Pittsburgh met in the Finals.  And again, Hossa found himself on the losing side, losing to the Penguins in 7 games.

Hossa tested free agency again, but not without a long term deal offer from the Red Wings.  Instead, Hossa saw what the newly revived Blackhawks had in their young team and signed with them for 12 years.  The previous season, the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks in the Conference Finals, 4 games to 2.  Hossa was impressed with the young talent they had.

In his first season with the Hawks, Hossa again, found himself in the Stanley Cup Finals, for the third straight season.  This time, the third time was a charm for Hossa.  The Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games to win Lord Stanley's Cup.  Captain Jonathan Toews, knowing Hossa's journey, quickly passed the Cup to Hossa first, to let him reel in glory.  The frustration had ended for Hossa.  The signing turned out to be a wise move for Hossa as he would win two more Stanley Cups within the next five seasons.

This season, Hossa, known as "The DemiGod" by fans in Chicago, has hit milestones throughout the year.  Other than his 600th assist tonight, he recorded his 1100th point early in the season.  And on October 18th, 2016, he became just the 44th player in NHL history, to have scored 500 career goals.  He currently sits at 515.

Now one would have to wonder, what type of career numbers he would have had if the NHL had not gone through an entire season due to a lock-out (2004-05), along with another shortened season where they missed another 34 games (2013) for the same reason.  The '04-'05 season was in the midst of Hossa's prime, where he averaged 41 goals between the 2002-2007 seasons.  With four years remaining under contract, and at the rate he is going this year, he could have easily surpassed, instead of threatening 600 career goals.  Thank you, Mr. Bettman.

Regardless, Hossa, now in his 18th season, a 13-time All-Star, still has gas in his tank, and is still arguably, one of the best two-way players in the league.  A team player, and a mentor to many, Hossa will no doubt find himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Until then, Hossa will focus on returning to the Stanley Cup Finals to possibly drink from the Holy Grail of hockey for a 4th time.  The rest of us can only cheer him on.


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