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Blackhawks: Is Marian Hossa a first-ballot Hall of Famer?

Marian Hossa #81, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Marian Hossa #81, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) /
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With the Hockey Hall of Fame announcements coming out, it makes Chicago Blackhawks fans ask the question if Marian Hossa will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer?

Will Marian Hossa be a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yes. Just his work with the Chicago Blackhawks along could be enough to get him in.

He had a fantastic career spanning almost 20 years. A career where he went to three straight Stanley Cups, losing the first two, then winning the third with the Blackhawks.

He added to that with more playoff success, being a driving factor for the team’s success from 2010-2017.

Hossa was one of the best two-way wingers in the NHL for his entire career. Due to the lack of statistics and metrics to measure two-way efficiency, this could very likely make him the most underrated player of his generation as well. In any case, we’ll try to quantify exactly how valuable the venerable forward really was.

His Game

Hossa’s style of play was predicated on puck control. He was a master of stealing the puck, consistently pickpocketing the opposition in the neutral zone, and leading a rush the other way. With his large frame (6’1” and over 200 lbs.) he would shield off defenders and protect the puck.

This style of play helped him achieve more than double the takeaways as he had giveaways in his career. He also had a bomb of a shot, firing off blistering wrist shots with a sneaky release that always seemed to surprise goaltenders. He used that shot to hit the 40-goal mark on three occasions, maxing out at 45 goals in 2002-03.

He was also incredibly reliable in his own end, especially for a winger, and could use his physicality to win any puck battle, which he did regularly.

Longevity

Hossa had a long career, 19 seasons in total, and looked like he was still in great shape to play before leaving the game due to a skin disease, as he scored 26 goals in the final campaign. He appeared in over 1300 regular-season games, and accumulated totals of 525 goals and 1134 points during that time.

In what I find to be one of his more impressive statistics, Hossa only had one full NHL season in which he was a minus-player, which was mostly spent with the pretty terrible 2007-08 Atlanta Thrashers. He had seven hat tricks over the course of his career as well, none of which came during his time in Chicago.

He also appeared in five All-Star Games and represented Slovakia at the Olympic Games on four occasions. Before he even appeared in the NHL, he was named the WHL Rookie of the Year in 1997-98, after leading all first years in assists (40) and helped the Portland Winterhawks win WHL and Memorial Cup championships.

Legacy in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Hossa’s long career wasn’t just built around regular-season success, as his team made the playoffs in 17 of his 19 years in the NHL. He made the journey to the Stanley Cup Final in three consecutive seasons) and appeared in the playoff finale five times in total (2008-2010, 2013 and 2015).

He helped his team win in the Stanley Cup Final three times, all with the Blackhawks. According to Quant Hockey, he totaled 205 postseason games in his career, tied for 18th-most in NHL history with legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils mini-dynasty of the late 90s.

He’s appeared in more postseason contests than a ton of current Hall of Famers, including renowned figures such as Brett Hull, Scott Niedermayer, Jari Kurri, Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey, and the list goes on.

As far as his postseason numbers go, he scored over 50 goals and nearly hit 150 points, all while keeping up that outstanding defensive game he’s known for, posting a plus/minus ratio of plus-25. He’s scored 12 game-winning goals in the playoffs as well, tied for 20th all-time.

Since the stat was recorded on Hockey Reference, starting in 2007-08, Hossa recorded 522 takeaways in 150 playoff games, an average of 3.48 per postseason contest.

The Naysayers

Those boneheads that will tell you that Hossa isn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer will either mention his lack of awards or that his statistics aren’t exceptional enough. In terms of awards, Hossa’s game breeds team success, and his teams have accumulated a ton of awards.

In addition to three Stanley Cup titles and his success in the CHL, he also helped three different teams to President’s Trophy campaigns.

He probably should have won the Selke Trophy at least once, but for nearly his entire career, the award voters showed bias toward the center position. Only two different wingers won the award while he was playing, right at the beginning of his time in the NHL and before his elite defense was fully developed.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, Hossa had personal and team success throughout his entire NHL career. He eclipsed 500 goals, 1,000 points, and 1,000 games, all of which have represented a threshold for getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame at some point or another.

He was an outstanding playoff performer and an elite two-way winger. He was snubbed for the Selke Trophy on multiple occasions, leading to the only thing that could hurt his chances, his lack of personal awards. This one blemish could sway some voters, but it shouldn’t. Anyone that watched Hossa play in his prime, or even just watched him help Chicago win three Stanley Cups, ought to know how good he really was.

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If you really need further convincing, just remember Hossa’s legacy as a Chicago Blackhawk; Chicago’s dynasty didn’t win the Stanley Cup until he arrived and stopped making the playoffs altogether once he left. In other words, the three-time Stanley Cup championship dynasty of the Blackhawks began and ended with Marian Hossa.

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