The Stanley Cup Final ended Sunday night with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head in San Jose. If that did not rattle Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews to the core, I have no idea what would.
The series was great overall, but I still think the Sharks had absolutely no business being in the spot they were. But anyways, this light Stanley Cup talk leads me to my point. Can we talk about the 37-year-old gorilla in the room?
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Marian Hossa is having a tough time producing offensively and staying healthy as of late. If the ‘Hawks want to return to the place where Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are right now, coach Joel Quenneville needs to have Hossa adopt a new role on the Chicago Blackhawks.
Here is the deal with Hossa. He has been my favorite ‘Hawk since he was signed to a monster deal back when I was in eighth grade — currently a junior in college. He won the Cup for the ‘Hawks in 2010 after scoring a key overtime goal against the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of a first-round series. If Hossa does not bury that goal, the ‘Hawks lose in the first round to the Predators.
If Hossa was not signed to a major contract, he leaves and finds another team to try and win a Cup with after a 2010 failure. The ‘Hawks have gotten so much more than they ever could have imagined from Hossa. There are three more banners in the rafters because of him. Period.
Also, he’s responsible for probably one of my favorite Blackhawks memories.
When I noted his monster deal, I should add it is not very close to being done. He becomes an unrestricted free free agent after the 2021 season. 2021. In the meantime, he is eating up a lot of the Blackhawks’ salary by earning $5,275,000 per season.
Maybe in 2016 the contract just looks silly. But I am fine with it. Like I said, he gave Blackhawks fans three Cups and countless memories. The thing that I am not fine with is Quenneville using him the same way for the past six years.
Last season, Hossa had one of his worst runs in his 20-season career. He had 13 goals and 20 assists during 64 regular-season games, as he missed some of the season with an injury. Throughout the whole year he was placed on the first line alongside Toews and a revolving door at left wing.
Hossa played the role of the guy getting the puck into the zone and holding it while the ‘Hawks could change lines or get everything set up in the offensive zone. While this is an important role for the team, it is not a role that should earn him a solidified spot on the top line. Getting the puck into the zone and protecting it is important, but the top line needs a player who can do that and produce offense. Hossa cannot really do that anymore.
So here is the role that Hossa needs to have now. During the second half of the first-round playoffs series against the Blues this season, Hossa was placed on the third line with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Ladd. This was perfect for Hossa.
The line was the best for the team during the series, and Hossa was able to contribute with three goals and two assists. The lesser role of the third line was extremely beneficial for him and the team as a whole.
The ‘Hawks need to carry the lessons learned from that series into the 2016-17 season. Putting Hossa down on the third line and letting him be “the guy” down there could be as beneficial as it was in the 2016 playoffs. He has recently been playing behind Toews on the top line, so a change of pace for him may do wonders.
As for the hole on the top line, it is a bit early to be making calls like that, since there are many players to be re-signed. However, I would love to see a top line of Teuvo Teravainen-Toews-Richard Panik. Each player has his specific type of play, and they would all complement each other very nicely. It also gives off the attitude the ‘Hawks are starting to look toward the younger players now, instead of having a 37-year-old playing where he should not be.
Hossa is still my favorite Blackhawk, and he has done wonders for the franchise. However, right now, Hossa needs to go down to the third line and assume that role for a while.