Friday, June 11, 2010
Marian Hossa - TVOS Player Profile
Former Ottawa Senators sniper Marian Hossa finally has a Stanley Cup victory to celebrate. After losing in the Finals with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and the Detroit Red Wings in 2009, Hossa helped the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans erase 49 years of misery with a 4-2 series win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
While Hossa did not show the goal scoring prowess he is normally associated with, scoring only 3 goals and adding 12 assists during the 2010 playoffs, he appeared determined to not let his third chance slip away, providing constant pressure on the back-check and lifting sticks to disrupt several Philadelphia scoring chances.
Born in Stara Lubovna, Slovakia, Hossa began his North American hockey career in 1997 with the Ottawa Senators, playing in seven games and picking up one assist before being assigned to the Portland Winter Hawks in the Western Hockey League. Selected in the first round of the 1997 NHL Draft (12th overall) by Ottawa, Hossa played alongside future NHL stars, Brendan Morrow, Andrew Ference, Matt Walker and Jason Labarbera in Portland; scoring 45 goals and adding 40 assists in 53 games, and winning a Memorial Cup during his only year in the WHL. In a strange coincidence, Hossa has lifted two championship trophies from two different leagues, while wearing the same uniform.
In his first full season with Ottawa, Hossa played in only 60 games because of a knee injury suffered in the Memorial Cup, yet he managed to score 15 goals and added 15 assists in his rookie campaign. A sign of things to come, Hossa would play 467 games in a Senators uniform, scoring 188 goals and 202 assists. Coming out of the NHL lockout, the Senators decided they could not fit Hossa into their long-term salary cap plans and he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Dany Heatley.
During the 2005-2006 season, playing alongside Ilya Kovalchuk, Hossa scored 39 goals and assisted on 53 for 92 points. It was in his second season with Atlanta that Hossa reached the 100-point plateau for the only time in his career (so far). He became the first player in franchise history to reach the 100-point mark, scoring 43 goals and setting another career high with 57 assists. On his way to free agency again, the Thrashers made Hossa the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 222 games with the Thrashers, Hossa accumulated 108 goals and 140 assists.
Hossa played a total of 32 games with the Penguins, 12 at the end of the 2007-2008 season and 20 more in Pittsburgh’s run to the Stanley Cup. To obtain Hossa (and Pascal Dupuis), the Penguins sent Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 2008 first round draft pick. A high price to pay for a pending free agent but Hossa performed admirably in the Cup run, even though they fell short of their ultimate goal, as the Red Wings won the 2008 Stanley Cup in six games. During his first attempt at the Cup, Hossa scored 12 goals and added 14 assists, scoring several key goals along the way.
Hossa’s decision to turn down a multi-year deal in Pittsburgh to sign for one year in Detroit was not without controversy. His reported comment that the one-year deal in Detroit offered him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup is where many fans believe the “Hossa Curse” began. He would suit up in 74 games with Detroit, scoring 40 goals and accumulating 71 points, but his production dropped in the playoffs, scoring only six goals and nine assists in 23 games. Pittsburgh would defeat the Red Wings in Game 7 of the Finals, leaving Hossa on the losing side for a second year in a row.
A free agent again, Hossa signed a 12-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, a replacement for the recently departed Martin Havlat, another former Senator. His debut was delayed by off-season shoulder surgery but he made an immediate impact in his first game, scoring two goals on November 25, 2009 against the Sharks. He would play 57 games in his first year in Chicago, scoring 24 goals and 27 assists. As the Blackhawks continued to rise to the top of the Western Conference standings, another trip to the Stanley Cup Final became a possibility for Hossa. When they reached the final round as Western Conference Champions, Hossa became the first player to reach the Final three years in a row with three different teams.
The four-time NHL All-Star finally has his Stanley Cup win to go along with his Memorial Cup and in a very classy move, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews handed the Cup to Hossa after he lifted it himself for the first time. With the talent on the Chicago roster, another appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals as the defending Champions is certainly a possibility; Hossa certainly hopes so...
Photo by Shay Haas on Flickr.com