The following is excerpted from the December 2014 issue of Blackhawks Magazine. Pick up the newest issue of the magazine at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 800-GO-HAWKS.
It may seem hard to believe sometimes, but Marian Hossa is just a hockey player, albeit a very, very talented one. Often over the course of his 16-year career, he’s looked like a magician on the ice, disappearing from a tight circle of defenders and reemerging again in space; or, in another familiar sight, putting on a burst of improbable speed to catch an opponent on the backcheck, lifting his stick and preventing a shot. Whatever the play is, Hossa always ends up with the puck on his stick, and it’s this enduring quality to his game that’s led to such a successful existence in the National Hockey League, no matter what team he’s on or who he’s playing with. So while Hossa gives off the air of a conjurer who can make something out of nothing, perhaps it’s more accurate to describe him as a fanatic: so utterly devoted to his two-way craft that he’s become one of the game’s best across the full length and breadth of the ice.
In celebration of his 1,000th point, tallied in storybook fashion in the city where his career began, Blackhawks Magazine asked his Chicago teammates and broadcasters one simple question: What’s your best memory of Marian Hossa? While there were some specific moments mentioned, such as an iconic goal or milestone, the most common answer was general effusive praise for the player – and the person.
Patrick Kane, Right Wing
“There are a lot of moments that stick out. The first one was his first game with the team (in 2009) after he came back from the shoulder surgery. We were playing in San Jose, and he scored a couple of goals in his first game, and we saw our first glimpse of how good he was. The main one would probably be his overtime goal against Nashville in the 2010 playoffs, when he took the penalty, came out of the box and then scored the goal to win it. But there are a lot of special plays, like the one where he caught the puck and batted it out of the air (against Tampa Bay in 2009). There are so many times he’s been probably our best player on the ice without even scoring or having an assist. He’s just a dominant player every night no matter what he does offensively. He’s been a pleasure to play with.”
Ben Smith, Right Wing
“Usually about once a game, there’s a ‘wow’ moment when you’re sitting on the bench watching Marian Hossa. It’s always fun to watch him play. I remember one shift earlier this year during one of the first home games – it was probably one of the best shifts I’ve ever seen. It just kind of summed him up perfectly, the way he backchecked, the way he held onto the puck, stickhandled through three guys and got a chance on net. The way he plays in all aspects of the game is something that you value the most about watching him play every day. He’s definitely a great role model for all of us to learn from.”
Jonathan Toews, Center
“The most special moment that I’ve been a part of was getting the chance to hand him the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia in 2010. It was the third year in a row that he’d been in the Stanley Cup Final, and we were so happy to have him be a part of our team, with the talent and the history and the accomplishments he already had as a player, but also how good of a teammate he was. Being able to hand the Stanley Cup off to him as the first guy was pretty amazing. There’s been a lot of great things since then, too, but that was a very special moment.”
Eddie Olczyk, Television Color Analyst
“As Hossa so perfectly and beautifully described it, he’s played with a lot of great players that allowed him to get to that magic number. But the thing that’s impressed me the most is his ability to play without the puck, which has allowed him to become a 1,000-point man. His work ethic, his defensive play and the way that he’s able to track down pucks is what separates him from a lot of players. There are a lot of great two-way players in this game, but if you look over his career, it's hard to find anybody better at playing the game the right way than Marian Hossa.
“When he came out of the penalty box in Round 1 against Nashville in 2010 and scored the goal in Game 5 to win the game – that'll always stick with me as a lasting impression. What should be noted is that he’s a guy who went to three straight Stanley Cup Finals with three different teams. That's pretty incredible stuff. But that goal, you could argue, was as big a defining goal as this team had, and that, to me, is why they brought him here, and he's delivered.”