Marian Hossa for Selke Trophy — probably not, but why not?
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter April 14, 2014 5:51PM
Do you feel Hossa should be considered for the award?
Hawks vs. Blues
G1: 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Louis, CSN
G2: 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Louis, Ch. 5
G3: 7:30 p.m. Monday at United Center, CSN
G4: 8:30 p.m. April 23 at United Center, CSN
G5: 7 p.m. April 25 at St. Louis*, CSN
G6: 2 p.m. April 27 at United Center*, Ch. 5
G7: TBD April 29 at St. Louis*, CSN
Best of seven; *-if necessary
Updated: May 16, 2014 6:35AM
Jonathan Toews doesn’t get a lot of chances to marvel at Marian Hossa. After all, they’re usually on the ice together — whether it’s on the Blackhawks’ top line, on the power play or on the No. 2 penalty-killing unit. Toews usually has plenty to keep him busy while Hossa’s doing his thing.
Not the last two weeks, though. An injury gave Toews not just the luxury of rest, but the luxury of getting to watch Hossa at work.
“I was almost laughing the one time, sitting in the locker room and watching the game,” Toews said. “I can’t remember who it was, but he turned the puck over. I guess [Hossa] was at their goal line, and they intercepted the pass at their blue line. He caught the guy on the backcheck by the red line. It was pretty amazing to see.”
It was pretty standard for Hossa, too — well, aside from the turnover that necessitated the backcheck. A future Hall of Famer, the big Slovak still is overshadowed by the Hawks’ two young stars, Toews and Patrick Kane. And while the recognition he does get usually is for his offensive contributions — he reached the 30-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career — it’s his work without the puck that makes Hossa such an elite player, even at 35.
“Scoring goals is fun, but I think it’s just as fun to steal the puck,” Hossa said.
It shows. Hossa led the league in takeaways for much of the season, but missing 10 games with injuries and family matters dropped him to fifth overall. But in 72 games, he had 75 takeaways — the highest average per game among league leaders.
His ability to steal the puck is as good as his ability to hold on to the puck. And his knack for being in the right spot defensively to swipe a bad pass or a loose puck rivals his knack for being in the right spot offensively to score on a good pass or a loose rebound.
“He’s been huge,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s a huge player on our team in every capacity.”
There’s no question Hossa is one of the best — if not the best — two-way players in the world. There’s also no chance he wins the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defensive forward.
It has become a centerman’s award, the last nine winners playing up the middle. The last winger to win was Dallas’ Jere Lehtinen in 2002-03. That magnifies just how impressive Hossa’s defensive prowess is — centers are all but obligated to be two-way players, while wingers are allowed more offensive freedom — and underscores just how unlikely he is to be recognized for it.
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron is the front-runner, and he’s certainly worthy. Toews once again is in the mix, also for good reason. Anze Kopitar and David Backes also will draw plenty of votes from the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
But Hossa, who finished a career-best 10th in the voting last season, likely will be overlooked again.
“It’s a good point there because it seems like only the centers get mentioned a lot,” Quenneville said. “But Hossa, two-way, is as good as any player in the league. Start getting him in that category. You have my support.”
Sixteen seasons into his remarkable career, and two days before voting is completed, it’s probably too little, too late. Which is a shame.
Just ask the guy who won it last year.
“He’s as skilled as they come,” Toews said. “And at his age to keep working [and to] have that work ethic on both sides of the puck is amazing. Sometimes it takes people to recognize and talk about it for him to get some attention and get some traction for an award like that. To me, he’s definitely deserving.”