On March 3rd 2013, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings, in the shootout by a score of 2-1. The victory kept the Hawks incredible streak to start the season alive, and it couldn’t have come against a better team than their bitter rival in Detroit. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the start of the NHL season, you already knew all of that. So much has been made of the Blackhawks’ achievements as a team, this season, but what may be a little lost in the hoopla, is the personal achievements of the Hawks’ individual players. The greatest individual achievement for a Blackhawk this season, has got to be Marian Hossa playing in his 1,000th NHL game. Hossa became just the 280th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 games. Yes, 280 is a lot, but when considering just how many players have skated in at least one game in the NHL since it’s inception in 1917, this feat is pretty incredible. As a way of celebrating this remarkable achievement, let’s take a look back on Marian’s outstanding NHL career.
Marian Hossa was the 12th overall pick of the Ottawa Senators in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft(I highly recommend Hawks fans to take a look at the list of players drafted before Hossa, a few might give you a bit of a chuckle). Hossa only played 7 games with the Senators in the 1997-1998 season, before being reassigned to his WHL team, the Portland Winter Hawks, who wear an almost identical jersey and logo as the Blackhawks(foreshadowing?). That season, Marian won WHL Rookie of the Year, and the Winter Hawks went on to win the WHL championship, in his first season with the team(definitely some eerie foreshadowing).
“Hoss” would join the Senators for the 1998-1999 season, and put up 30 points in 60 games, in an injury shortened season, to finish second in in Calder Trophy(Rookie of the year) voting. The following season, Marian would build upon his solid rookie campaign, by adding 56 points in 78 games played. It was the 2000-2001 season that would serve as Marian’s break out season, that established him as a star at the NHL-level. That season, Hossa scored 32 goals, accumulated 78 points, and earned his first NHL All-Star honors.
The 2000-2001 season would earn Marian his first multi-million dollar NHL contract, and although his production wasn’t quite up to the previous season’s standard, “Hoss” still had a solid season, piling up 66 points. Although, it was already confirmed that Marian was a star at the NHL level, the 2002-2003 season arguably elevated him to the echelon of NHL superstar. That season, he scored an insane(and a career-high, thus far) 45 goals! Marian also added 35 assists to combine with his goal total for 80 points in 80 games played, that season. The 2002-2003 season also marked the first time that Marian was part of a deep playoff run. That season, the Senators were one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals, before they were defeated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, by the eventual champions, the New Jersey Devils.
How does one follow up, their season of NHL superstar establishment? Marian Hossa sets a career high in points with 82, to lead the Senators in scoring and to the playoffs for the 2004-2004 season. The Senators lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, in what would turn out to be Marian’s last appearance as a member of the Ottawa Senators.
As many of you know, there was no 2004-2005 NHL season, due to a lengthy lockout that lead to the cancellation of the season. During the lockout, went back home to Slovakia to play with his younger brother, Marcel, as members of Mora IK of the Elitserien League. The end of the NHL lockout also marked the end of Marian’s lucrative contract with the Senators. Hossa signed a new deal, with the Senators, and was simultaneously traded to the Atlanta Thrashers(now the Winnipeg Jets). Showing no rust, or new-team blues, Marian put up a then, career-high 92 points during the 2005-2006 season. In typical Marian Hossa fashion, he topped his career-high, with a new career-high. The 2006-2007 season still remains as Hossa’s career-high in points, with an incredible 100 points! Marian, also helped lead the Thrashers to their first and only playoff appearance, only to be swept in the first round, by the New York Rangers.
The following season, Hossa would be traded at the trade deadline from the Thrashers to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Marian helped to push the Penguins to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, but were defeated by the Detroit Red Wings. Following the cup run with the Penguins, Hoss signed a one year deal with the team that prevented the Penguins and him from hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Detroit Red Wings. With Detroit, Marian added another 40 goal season, along with a total of 71 points on the season. He helped lead the Red Wings back to the Stanley Cup Finals for a rematch with his former team from the previous season, the Pittsburgh Penguins(Had to be awkward). However, when Hossa left Pittsburgh for Detroit, Lord Stanley’s Cup left Detroit for Pittsburgh.
After that season, Hossa signed a long 12 year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. A controversial, lengthy fat, contract that few Hawks fans will complain about. Hoss, missed the first couple of months of the 2009-2010 season, due to off-season shoulder surgery, but didn’t miss a beat in his return to the ice/debut for the Blackhawks. Hossa brought a powerful two-way game, that many Hawks fans had never seen, and fit in right away with the team, and in the hearts of the fans. Hoss and the Hawks marched their way through the playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. This was Marian’s 3rd consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, and he did it with a different team, each time. The only difference, was this time Hossa finally got to walk of holding the Stanley Cup! Perhaps it was destiny that was foreshadowed form his days with the Portland Winter Hawks? For fun’s sake, let’s say yes. That season, Marian also received the honor of representing his home-country of Slovakia, in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
As Marian is now in the veteran era of his career, he exudes leadership qualities, and as long as he is healthy, he is arguably the greatest force to be reckoned with on the ice. This season, has been no exception, as Hoss has returned from a nasty concussion suffered in last season’s post-season, with no ill-effects and continues to dominate on the ice.
Congratulations on 1,000 NHL games, Marian!