One of the greatest Chicago Blackhawks of the 2010s announced his official retirement from the NHL in 2018. While he hadn’t played professionally since 2016-17 due to a skin condition, Marian Hossa signed a one-day ceremonial contract with the Blackhawks to retire as a member of the team with whom he won three Stanley Cups and arguably cemented his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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On July 1, 2009, the Blackhawks signed Hossa to a 12-year contract worth $62.8 million. After missing nearly the first two months of the 2009-10 regular season due to injury, Hossa made his Chicago debut on Nov. 25, 2009, against the San Jose Sharks and immediately became a fan favorite. In eight seasons with the Blackhawks, Hossa skated in 534 regular-season games, tallying 415 points. Despite often being overshadowed by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, much of Chicago’s success was thanks to Hossa during these years, who provided the club with leadership, a two-way presence, and even some grit.
Though he also spent time with the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings in his 19-year career, Hossa’s Chicago tenure stands out. In honor of his retirement, here are five games that define his Blackhawks career.
5. Dec. 13, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
About two and a half weeks into his first season with the Blackhawks, Hossa scored one of the greatest goals of his NHL career. He entered the game with three goals and four assists in his first eight games, but it was this one that helped him become a fan favorite so early into his Chicago tenure.
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With fewer than 30 seconds remaining in the second period, Chicago was up 2-0, and Hossa had already recorded a primary assist. The Blackhawks were looking to find some late-period momentum, and Patrick Sharp attempted to find Hossa on a cross-ice pass in the offensive zone. The puck didn’t immediately find his stick, but he skated toward it, caught it in mid-air, dropped it, and immediately swatted it past Lightning goaltender Antero Niittymäki for a 3-0 lead.
The Blackhawks won the game 4-0, with Hossa receiving first star honors. Though he had plenty of memorable games in his first season, this one stands out for showcasing his creativity and willingness to make bold moves, such as this baseball-like goal.
4. Oct. 30, 2014 @ Ottawa Senators
In this early-season matchup, Hossa recorded one of his biggest milestones in the city where he began his NHL career. With just over six minutes to go in the game, the teams were tied 3-3 before Hossa found the puck off forward Kris Versteeg. After scoring his 999th career point earlier in the game – assisting on a first-period goal by Toews – Hossa scored his 1,000th point in style, getting the puck behind the net for a wraparound goal past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.
The goal was no. 466 in Hossa’s NHL career, and it was also his 1,100th game. At the time, he was the 80th NHL player of all time to score 1,000 points. The Blackhawks defeated the Senators in a 5-4 shootout win, but Hossa’s milestone was the story of the night.
3. May 18, 2014 vs. Los Angeles Kings
Although physical presence might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hossa, that’s what stood out in this matchup. The Blackhawks were playing the Kings in Game 1 of the 2014 Western Conference Final, and with a 2-1 lead about halfway through the third period, Hossa delivered a big hit on Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown. The way Brown skated up to Hossa made it seem like Brown was ready to take him down, but Hossa quickly responded and got the best of him in this behind-the-net collision.
While some fans might remember this game for Hossa’s hit, it was also a productive offensive showing for the Slovakian forward. He had two assists and registered a plus-1 rating as the Blackhawks won 3-1 and took a 1-0 lead in the series. Chicago dropped the series in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Kings, but it was a solid postseason for Hossa, who recorded 14 points, including 12 assists, in 19 games.
2. Oct. 18, 2016 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Similar to his 1,000th career point, Hossa reached another milestone in an early-season matchup two years later. In their third home game of the 2016-17 regular season, Chicago hosted the Flyers. At a sold-out United Center, the Blackhawks weren’t the top attraction in town as the Chicago Cubs were facing the Los Angeles Dodgers in that year’s NLCS and eventually broke their 108-year title drought. However, in this game, Hossa reminded fans why he and the Blackhawks were still worthy of attention.
With a 3-0 lead just more than five minutes into the second period, forward Artem Anisimov found Hossa on the power play. He quickly controlled the puck and fired it past Philadelphia netminder Michal Neuvirth, giving the Blackhawks a 4-0 lead. It was the 500th goal of Hossa’s NHL career to become just the 44th player in league history to reach that milestone; he was also the third Slovakian-born player to accomplish it, following Stan Mikita and Peter Bondra.
Philadelphia scored four unanswered to tie the game 4-4 before Chicago quickly responded with three straight, giving the Blackhawks a 7-4 win. In what was ultimately Hossa’s final NHL season, he recorded 26 goals in 73 games, finishing his career with 525 goals. His 186 Chicago goals place him 22nd all-time in team history and no. 1 among European-born players.
1. April 24, 2010 vs. Nashville Predators
Arguably one of the biggest non-Stanley Cup moments in Blackhawks playoff history, Hossa changed the team’s momentum in Game 5 of the 2010 Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Predators. The teams were tied 4-4 heading into overtime, both looking to take the lead in what had been a pretty even series thus far. Had it not been for Hossa’s heroics, who knows how the rest of the Blackhawks’ playoff run would have turned out?
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With about a minute left in regulation, the Blackhawks were down 4-3. Hossa checked Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis, receiving a five-minute major penalty. Fortunately, Kane scored the game-tying goal with 14 seconds left in regulation. Chicago then successfully started overtime by killing off the penalty before Hossa jumped out of the penalty box, skated toward the net, and knocked in a pass off defenseman Brent Sopel. The Blackhawks won the game 5-4 before heading to Nashville two nights later and knocking off the Predators in six games.
As soon as he knocked the puck off his stick, Hossa’s reaction spoke for itself. He jumped up, skated toward Chicago’s bench, and went down on both knees pumping both of his fists in the air, jubilant. The Blackhawks were still a long way away from winning their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, and they hadn’t won the series yet, but Hossa’s goal provided an immediate spark. To this day, the goal remains one of the most iconic moments in franchise history and was arguably the biggest moment of Hossa’s career.
A 2020 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hossa remains a household name. Recently, he served on the team’s advisory committee, along with Sharp and Eddie Olczyk, who helped select Kyle Davidson as the 10th general manager (GM) in team history. He was in attendance for the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes on April 3, 2022, along with several former players, when Toews was recognized for playing in his 1,000th career NHL game.
Hossa ended his NHL career after 1,309 games and 1,134 points. He might not be the first player fans think of when they reminisce on the Blackhawks’ dominance of the early 2010s, but he played a vital role in elevating them. While his career ended rather abruptly, he’ll go down as a franchise great, and should have his number raised to the United Center rafters. Allowing Hossa to retire a Blackhawk, despite having not played in five years, is a wonderful gesture by the organization and speaks volumes about his impact on the organization.
Connor Smith covers the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. He’s based in the Chicago area and is currently pursuing his master’s at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He received his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in May 2022 and has experience reporting and editing for The Ball State Daily News, the campus’ student newspaper, along with interning for Best Version Media (BVM) Sports. You can learn more about Smith and his work through his online portfolio, connornsmith0719.wordpress.com.