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Marian Hossa hopes to get No. 500 soon

Blackhawks right wing enters season with 499 NHL goals

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa doesn't place much value on personal achievements, but the Chicago Blackhawks right wing can't help but think about his next career milestone.

Hossa, 37, has 499 goals in 18 NHL seasons, the past seven with the Blackhawks, and will take aim at becoming the 44th player in League history to reach 500 when Chicago opens its season against the St. Louis Blues at United Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

"I'll put it this way: I don't try to think about it much, but when it happens, maybe one day I'll say to myself, 'I'm in this company with the great players who've reached this [milestone],'" he said. "But let's think about it when it happens."

Unlike last season, Hossa's chase for No. 500 won't be a race against time; he scored his 499th goal on March 29 but played in only one more regular-season game. Barring injury, he's going to score a goal this season, so it's just a matter of when and where.

"[Last season], I basically could've played a couple more games, but because of injuries, I didn't want to force it," Hossa said. "I said, 'You know what? There is another year next year, so let's not force things. Let it happen naturally. Let's make sure I'm more ready for the [Stanley Cup Playoffs].' Hopefully, I'm going to get it sooner than later, at the beginning of this season, and get on with it."

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The Blackhawks hope Hossa scores No. 500 early in the season and keeps going. Since scoring 30 goals in 72 games in 2013-14, Hossa has 35 in 146 regular-season games the past two seasons, and his 6.8 shooting percentage last season was the worst of his NHL career.

"We didn't mind the way he played overall," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was impressed with Hossa's play for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. "Some years, they do go in a little bit [and] you get a little more touch, you get a little more confident in the scoring area. But with his game, I didn't see any falloff in his overall game. Maybe the scoring finish [was off], but I still think he's capable of that. I would expect him to score at a little higher rate than last year, for sure."

Hossa had one goal and a minus-1 rating in six games during the World Cup but looked re-energized playing on Team Europe's top line. He didn't get into either of the Blackhawks' final two preseason games but said he's ready to prove there's more tread left on his tires.

His teammates are ready to help him celebrate No. 500.

"We've seen him score a lot of goals and been part of three [Stanley Cup] championship teams and the [other] things he's done here," right wing Patrick Kane said. "If there's any guy that deserves a milestone like that, it's him. He's a true professional, a great guy, a great friend, and hopefully it happens sooner than later."

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