Hossa has made it to Stanley Cup Final in 4 of last 6 seasons
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 14, 2013 10:48PM
Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) celebrates with right wing Marian Hossa (81) and center Jonathan Toews (19) after scoring a goal during the second period of Game 1 in their NHL Stanley Cup Final hockey series against the Boston Bruins, Wednesday, June 12, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: July 16, 2013 6:31AM
Surrounded by a rotating cast of media characters, asking questions running the gamut from silly to serious, Marian Hossa leaned forward in his chair and smiled broadly. He happily chatted about everything from living across the street from Boston’s Zdeno Chara in Slovakia to coping with the career-threatening concussion he suffered in the playoffs last spring.
Hossa looked entirely comfortable in the circus of Stanley Cup Final Media Day. No surprise, considering it was his fourth in six years.
“It’s always fun to be here with you guys and answer these questions,” Hossa said with maybe just a touch of sarcasm.
It has been a remarkable run for Hossa, reaching the sport’s biggest stage four times with three teams in six seasons. Consider that his longtime friend Michal Handzus — at 36, two years older than Hossa — is making his first appearance in the Final in his 14th season.
All week, the Hawks have said how special it is, how rare it is, to play for the most revered trophy in sports. For the Hawks’ core, it’s their second chance in four years — no small feat. For the younger guys — and for Handzus and fellow first-timer Michal Rozsival — it’s potentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“We talked about embracing it and being excited — it’s not every year,” rookie Brandon Saad said. “Some guys never make it to the Cup Final in their career, so just be excited about it.”
Hossa still feels that way, saying “it never gets old.” And after a grueling seven-month rehab from the concussion he suffered at the elbow of Raffi Torres in the playoffs last April, Hossa has gained an even greater appreciation for what it means to be at this point.
After all, there were times over the summer when Hossa thought he might never play again.
“As soon as I got on the ice, all of a sudden there was a bunch of guys skating beside me, and the brain has to adjust to it,” Hossa said. “There’s so many new things — the puck coming your way, you have to shoot, you have to skate, you have to watch the players. So many things going in your mind. And I knew I wasn’t ready for it.”
It took until November before he felt like himself again. So the lockout proved to be a boon for Hossa, who was ready to go by the time the season started in January. Hossa finished with 17 goals and 14 assists in 40 games, while continuing to be one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL. In the playoffs, he has seven goals and eight assists. His sneaky stick work in the corner led to Saad’s game-turning goal in the third period of Game 1 against the Bruins. He leads the NHL with 21 takeaways this postseason.
“He’s awesome,” Handzus said. “I don’t know if he’s better than ever, but he’s been a really consistent player. That’s what most jumps out. He’s been great all his career.”
For a while there, Hossa was at best a hockey nomad, at worst a mercenary — a ready-made superstar bouncing around the league on a quixotic quest to win a Stanley Cup. After seven years in Ottawa, he was dealt to Atlanta. After three years there, he was traded to Pittsburgh, losing in the Final to Detroit. A year later, he signed with Detroit, cruelly losing in the Final to Pittsburgh. A year after that, he came to Chicago and finally hoisted the Cup on his third try.
Now? He’s not going anywhere. He’s signed through 2021. He’s putting down roots. He has found a home.
“I love the city, I love the atmosphere here,” Hossa said. “Great team, great organization. I really feel at home here.”
And, of course, in the Stanley Cup Final, too.