Marian Hossa’s goal: Productivity across a long career
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org January 28, 2012 9:24PM
Updated: March 1, 2012 8:19AM
OTTAWA, Ontario — Coming back to Ottawa, the city where his career began, for the All-Star Game meant a lot of different things to Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa.
There were some recollections of a time cut short by a trade to the Atlanta Thrashers that he thought was handled poorly, fond memories to relive with former teammates and fans to reconnect with.
“A lot of people in the streets said they miss me here,” Hossa said.
But it also was a good time to consider his career and whether he’s capable of playing at an All-Star level throughout his 12-year, $62.8 million deal with the Hawks.
Those close to Hossa believe he’s capable and driven to be as prodigious as 41-year-old stars Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings. At 33, Hossa continues to show that he’s one of the NHL’s best all-around players.
“He can do it,” said New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, a close friend. “He’s got skills. Whenever he decides to quit, it will not be because he can’t play.”
In fact, thanks to an overdue long summer of rest and preparation after playing in three consecutive Stanley Cup finals, Hossa is having his best season since he had 100 points for the Thrashers in 2006-07. He has 53 points in 49 games.
“If not the most dominant player, he’s been one of the top two or three on our team,” general manager Stan Bowman told the Sun-Times. “He does it all. No matter what line he goes to that line seems to pick up. That’s usually the common thread for when guys get hot — they’re usually playing with Hossa.”
For most of his career, Hossa has been durable. It wasn’t until recently with the Hawks that he’s had a bout of injuries, notably rotator-cuff surgery two years ago.
“It all depends on my health,” said Hossa, who is in his third season with the Hawks. “If I’m healthy, I believe I can [play past 40]. I’m going to take care of myself and I will try to play to my potential.”
Hossa isn’t known for his fitness, but he abides by a strict regime and is one of the Hawks’ strongest players. He said the rehab process and the training he did in Ottawa after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in 1998 is a pivotal point in his rise.
“When the ACL thing happened, I was a skinny kid,” Hossa said. “That summer I didn’t go home [to Slovakia]. I spent the whole summer with [Ottawa’s] conditioning coach and rehabbing the knee, doing lots of upper-body and core [workouts].
“Once the knee was better, I did lots of legs. Overall, I got so much stronger because I spent so much time at the gym. That definitely helped me in my career.”
Hossa’s strength is one of his defining attributes.
“It’s not easy [defending him],” said friend Zdeno Chara, the Boston Bruins’ Norris Trophy-winning defenseman. “He’s powerful.”
Television analyst Eddie Olczyk likens Hossa to Hall-of-Fame center Ron Francis and Hawks legend Steve Larmer for how he plays and handles himself professionally.
“That’s Hall-of-Fame material for sure,” Olczyk said.