Blackhawks News

Where do you put Marian Hossa? Who cares.

By Jeffrey Bartl
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"“I think all systems are go,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “(Hossa) hasn’t played in a long time and hopefully he can just help us. We felt there was an upgrade in our practices when he joined us. He can make plays. We like the way he competes and … on both sides of the puck he does a lot of good things.”"

This is why I sure as hell don’t care — right now, anyway. I’m not going to get caught up in which line he’ll play on, how he’s going to affect the team’s chemistry on the ice or who he’s going to shower next to after the game. Analyze it all you want, but I just want Marian Hossa on the ice — and that’s it.

The ‘Hawks sent Bryan Bickell back to Rockford today, clearing the way for Hossa’s Blackhawks debut Wednesday night in San Jose.

There’s been talk of how Hossa’s return could possibly impact the ‘Hawks in a negative fashion and how there are questions that are going to need answers. For instance:

How will Hossa’s return impact the chemistry the ‘Hawks have built on the ice after 22 games?

Seriously, what chemistry? The Blackhawks have been jumbling lines, playing guys out of position and spending a record amount of money on I-Pass bills just to fill four lines. Jonathan Toews started the year healthy, missed six games, then came back. Dave Bolland started the season, then sat out, then came back, and now is out for most of the year. Brent Seabrook missed time and is back. Ben Eager missed time and is back. There was the Andrew Ebbett experiment. Jordan Hendry has played defense, forward, Icehogs, Blackhawks, forward, defense… you get the point. Jack Skille and Bryan Bickell are the Illinois Tollway’s best customers with their constant shuttles back and forth to Rockford.

If you think there’s any chemistry for Hossa to screw with, you’re just making shit up and need a nap. He’s not going to come out Wednesday night and immediately play 30 minutes. Yes, seven-game winning streaks are nice and fun and of course no one ever wants a winning streak to end, but it’s going to — and it won’t be because Hossa came back. Let’s focus on getting him on the ice, shut our mouths and watch one of the best players in the league get used to the Indian-head sweater.

Who will center for Hossa?

This is actually a legit question. However, with all the line jumbling Q has done so far, does this need to be carved in stone right now? The point is, with such unique talents as Hossa, Toews, Kane, Versteeg, Sharp, etc., there will be some experimenting. There are 60 games left in the season, plus a two-week break for the Olympic Games. Shit’s going to change at some point, no matter what. If we get to Game 70 and Q is still confused where Hossa should play, then we can start pissing on each others legs. For now, Q has to get these guys together in game situations before any regular line is established.

Can Hossa and Kane co-exist?

Mike Kiley of Blackhawks Confidential examined this, and here’s what he said:

"To my way of thinking, other than playing Kane and Hossa together on the power play, coach Joel Quenneville has to keep Kane and Hossa seperated on the ice for Kane’s benefit.You don’t want to turn Kane into primarily a passer. That would be a tendency if he played at even strength with Hossa. As appealing as that combo seems to some, I wonder about its fallout.Kane needs to continue to mature as a shooter and scorer. He can do that by making his own way on his personal journey and not slip into the role of riding shotgun for the prolific Hossa.While some will argue that matching Kane’s passing and Hossa’s shooting is a no-brainer, I don’t want to stunt Kane’s growth."

While I respect your thinking, Mike, I think this is much ado about nothing. Just because Hossa is a shoot-first player, it doesn’t mean Kane has to turn pass-happy playing with Hossa. If these two were on the same line together, I think you’d see much of the same from Kaner as we do now: control the puck, shoot when it’s there, pass when needed. If the concern is whether or not Kaner will get the puck from Hossa in the first place to be able to control it and play a bit of quarterback, we’re complicating a situation between two great players who recognize each others talents.

More than that, if Q doesn’t think Kaner is getting enough shots playing with Hossa he can make a change. It’s part of the experimenting I mentioned. The situation won’t reach this level anyway, in my opinion.

I do understand the concern of those curious how Hossa fits in with a team that’s 15-5-2 overall and on a seven-game winning streak without him. When things are going well, change never seems ideal — no matter who represents that change.

But we’re talking about one of the best players in the NHL suiting up for the Blackhawks. I’m thinking we’re better off, not worse off, and any questions are going to take some time to get answered. We’ve been waiting since 1961 for someone wearing the Indian head to hoist the Stanley Cup. I think we can defer some of that patience while watching Hossa get used to his new digs — and while the Blackhawks get used to Hossa.

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