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Chicago Blackhawks: Marian Hossa’s Contract Future

By Tim Lively
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If there is one player outside Corey Crawford on our beloved Chicago Blackhawks that keeps silencing his doubters, it’s Marian Hossa. Ever since he arrived in Chicago, many began speculating just when Hoss was going to hang up his skates after a long and decorated career. Well, three Stanley Cups later and at the age of 36, Hossa doesn’t even seem to be mildly entertaining the idea.

As you may recall, Hossa came to the ’Hawks in the 2009-2010 season, inking a 12-year contract worth $62.8 million. At the time, Hoss’ contract was met with controversy. Since the contract wouldn’t expire until 2021 when Hossa was 42 and it was front loaded in its first eight years, an investigation was launched by the NHL to determine if Hoss retiring before the contract expired had been a factor in the negotiations, as this would have been an illegal side-stepping of the salary cap, and if true, would have resulted in a fine and loss of draft picks for the ’Hawks.

The NHL had good reason to be suspicious (though the investigation never uncovered any wrongdoing). It may seem crazy now, but when he came to the ’Hawks, it wasn’t an outrageous assumption that Hossa was yet another case of a NHL veteran journeymen trying find a team to achieve the one accomplishment (winning the Stanley Cup) that eluded him his whole career, and wouldn’t be good for much else. After all, before he came to the Blackhawks, Hoss had tried, and failed, to achieve this with first the Pittsburgh Penguins, and then the Detroit Red Wings. So it looked like the ’Hawks were just yet another set of coattails Hossa was trying to ride to the Stanley Cup.

Now Hossa certainly wouldn’t have been judged had he hung up his skates after hoisting the Cup in 2010, but Hoss stuck around and helped the ’Hawks win the Cup again in 2013, and then again in 2015, making some amazing memories for the Blackhawks along the way. It’s crystal clear now that Hoss isn’t playing for the Stanley Cup, he’s playing for the love of hockey.

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This type of dedication is nothing new to the Blackhawks franchise, but unlike similarly aged and dedicated veterans that have donned the ’Hawks’ red, white and black past their prime (such as Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival), Hossa’s age has not only never been a factor in his play, but it also has not prevented him from becoming one of the ’Hawks’ top offensive contributors.

Add on to that Hoss’ amazing ability to come back from serious injuries. In his first game back from an eight-week shoulder surgery rehabilitation, and his first game as a Chicago Blackhawk, Hoss netted a full-strength and short-handed goal against the San Jose Sharks in the 2009-2010 season. Fast forward to the 2012 playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes when Hossa received a season-ending (and illegal) hit from NHL scumbag Raffi Torres. Hoss came back in the shortened 2013 season to finish third on the team in regular season points. So even in his mid-30s, Hossa has proven durability is not a concern.

All that being said, the question now isn’t when will Hossa retire, but if he’ll actually play out his contract. As mentioned earlier, Hossa’s contract expires in 2021 when he’s 42, and given the way Hoss has been rolling for the past six years in Chicago, I think there is a darn good chance he actually finishes his contract that had once been labeled unrealistically long.

Just so you novice ’Hawks fans know, Hossa playing into his 40s would be nothing new in pro hockey. The NHL has such an extensive history of over-the-hill players still lacing up their skates, the list has its own Wikipedia page. And this is not a phenomenon of yesteryear. The once-famous Pittsburgh Penguin of the 1990s, Jaromir Jagr, just signed a one-year contract extension with the Florida Panthers at the age of 43.

So let’s just say Hossa does run out his contract. Would this be a benefit for the Blackhawks, or a burden?

Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (left) celebrates with right wing Marian Hossa (81) after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

While Hossa will certainly lose a little pep from his step (just a little), I don’t think he’ll prove to be quite the burden to the ’Hawks line-up as, say, Handzus. Because let’s be honest, Hoss is a future Hall of Famer, and more importantly, Hossa is such an amazing two-way forward because of his uncanny ability to use body positioning with minimal energy expenditure and maximum effect. This means Hoss will have a much longer shelf life than your average aging veteran.

However, I think where Hossa will really pay big dividends for the Blackhawks will be serving as a mentor to the young crop of players that will now have to assume a larger role for the ’Hawks in the wake of some noteworthy departures from the roster.

Whether Hossa actively took Brandon Saad under his wing this past season is a matter of conjecture, but there’s no denying Saad’s game reached new heights skating on the same line as Hoss. Who’s to say that Hossa wouldn’t generate the same beneficial results lining up with another aspiring ’Hawks forward with strong two-way play, i.e. Teuvo Teravainen? And the longer Hoss sticks around in Chicago, the more widespread his positive influence will become.

Marian Hossa was brought to Chicago with the hope that he would help the ’Hawks win the Stanley Cup. While Hoss was probably only expected to play his part in one Stanley Cup victory, Hossa helped the Blackhawks raise the Cup three times, and he’s not done yet. Hossa has demonstrated to Chi-Town his talent is only rivaled by his dedication, and that being said, it looks like Hoss still has a long career ahead of him as a Chicago Blackhawk.

FOR THE DAGGER!

Next: Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup Video

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