On June 24, 2020 former Chicago Blackhawk Marian Hossa officially became a first-ballot Hall of Famer. While we all wish the 41-year-old right winger was still playing, his career was unfortunately cut short after the 2016-17 season due to a progressive skin disorder. No one is particularly arguing Hossa’s nomination, but some pundits say he doesn’t deserve this first-time induction. I’d argue those people haven’t been watching Hossa for the last eight seasons with the Blackhawks!
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Well, everyone has a right to their opinion. The fact remains that Hossa was indeed inducted the first time he was eligible, cementing his legend and celebrating his illustrious career.
The Hossa Numbers
We should start with the statistics. Hossa was drafted in 1997 in the first round (12th overall) by the Ottawa Senators, where he spent his first seven seasons. He had short stints with the Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings before joining the Blackhawks for the final eight seasons of his playing career.
Overall Career Statistics
Throughout the course of his 19-year career Hossa amassed 525 goals and 609 assists for 1134 points in 1309 games. He scored 30 or more goals eight times and crossed the 40-goal threshold in three of those instances. He reached the 100-point mark in the 2006-07 season with the Thrashers.
This dynamic winger reached the playoffs in all but two of his 19 seasons. In 205 postseason games, his numbers included 52 goals and 97 assists for 149 points. He participated in the Stanley Cup Finals for three consecutive years with three different teams from 2007 to 2010. We all know that finally culminated in his first Stanley Cup championship with the Blackhawks in 2010. But he wasn’t done there, adding two more championships in 2013 and 2015.
According to Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago, Hossa “ranks 35th all-time in goals (525), 30th in postseason points (149) and was the 80th player in NHL history to hit the 1,000-point mark.”
Accomplishments With the Blackhawks
As a member of the Blackhawks, Hossa accrued 186 goals and 229 assists for 415 points in 534 regular season games. He added 21 goals and 52 assists for 73 points in 107 playoff games.
In his eight seasons he hit the 20+ goal mark six times, with four of those times being over 25 goals. He contributed 30 tallies in the 2013-14 campaign, and 26 goals in 2016-17 which was his final season in the league.
But that’s just the offensive side. In the second half of his career Hossa evolved into an elite all-around player. He was widely known for his defensive prowess just as much for his offensive contributions.
If you look back at Hossa’s scoring heyday in the eight years from 2000 to 2009 (minus the 2004-05 lockout season), he averaged 79 points per season. In his eight outings with the Blackhawks, he averaged 52 points. Well according to this the Blackhawks got the short end of the stick, didn’t they? Heck no! They simply inherited a more well-rounded player.
Hossa’s Defensive Game
The newly anointed Hall of Famer himself recently gave some insight into his developing game. “When I joined the National Hockey League, I was a strictly offensive player. I had no idea how to play defensively,” Hossa said. He credited Jacques Martin in Ottawa and his year in Detroit with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Chris Chelios for teaching him more of an all-around game.
In the NBC Sports article linked above, Roumeliotis references a conversation with ex-Blackhawks’ head coach Joel Quenneville regarding Hossa.
One of those players that really set the table of playing the right way. And as a coach, you couldn’t ask for a guy that demonstrates exactly what your message is on how we want to play structurally, in all zones, all situations. Protects the puck, keeps the puck, tough to take it away from him. It was like, ‘OK, this is the perfect player.’
Here’s a look at Hossa and his former teammate Datsyuk as opponents.
An all-time great moment between Marian Hossa and Pavel Datsyuk, two of the best two-way forwards ever, pick-pocketing each other. #Blackhawks https://t.co/ac0Hvouskk pic.twitter.com/kK7a7lelVo— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) June 24, 2020
Nothing like pick-pocketing each other on the same shift!
Celebrating Hossa’s Character
Since we’ve established Hossa’s offensive and defensive contributions, now let’s delve into his character. It’s well known the Slovakian native was extremely well respected throughout the league for his professionalism, humility, and class. And as Quenneville referenced, he quietly led by example.
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Former teammate Kris Versteeg remembers when Hossa first came to Chicago.
He didn’t play until November (after signing) and – I swear – it was like watching a Farrari skate down the ice. I still remember me and (Patrick) Kane looked at each other and we’re like, ‘That’s a professional player right there. Look at him.’
Several ex-teammates took to Twitter to congratulate Hossa and credit his personality above and beyond his hockey accomplishments.
Hoss isn’t just one of the greats hockey players to play the game he’s also one of the nicest, genuine and loving person I have ever met! It was privilege learning the game from you but also learning to be a great… https://t.co/9eTi7lmn9q— Andrew Shaw (@shawz15er) June 24, 2020
A tweet from Brent Sopel called him “one of the best Humans on and off the ice.” Patrick Kane referred to him as an “amazing teammate, better person.”
And John Scott opened up to NBC Sports Chicago’s Scott King about Hossa’s influence in the locker room. When Scott played for the Blackhawks he was definitely a role player and not one of the stars. But none of that mattered to Hossa.
The other guys were younger, they were in their early 20s, they had won the Cup, but still, they were younger guys. I was older and I just felt like for some reason, he (Hossa) was the heartbeat of that team. He was the unsung hero and as he went, we went. Because you knew what you were going to get from everybody else sometimes, but you always knew what you were going to get from Hossa: it was a 100-percent effort on the backcheck, on the forecheck, he just gave it his all every single night.
Whereas other guys, you never really knew, sometimes they’d have a night off or have an off night, but he was just good every single night. I just totally respected that guy. I was super happy he got in.
It’s not every day that you find a man and a hockey player with all the accolades described above. Which is why Marian Hossa’s first-ballot induction into the Hall of Fame should be celebrated for what it is; the incredibly well-deserved accomplishment of a legend.