Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Marian Hossa 'a dream to coach' during his career

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Blackhawks' Marian Hossa 'a dream to coach' during his career

Bob Hartley can easily narrow the list down to two.

Hartley, now with the Calgary Flames, has coached plenty of great players in his career but deems two as the best. One is Hall of Famer Joe Sakic. The other is Marian Hossa.

“He’s a dream to coach. He’s not just coachable, he’s a dream to coach,” said Hartley, who coached Hossa when the two were with the Atlanta Thrashers. “He always shows up to play, works unbelievably hard in the gym and in practices. For him, to play good defense is as important as scoring goals. Probably the strongest player I’ve coached on the puck. You basically need a tow-truck to lift his stick off the puck. He gets a lot of credit. But I still think he’s very underrated when it comes to the player that he is.”

[RELATED - Marian Hossa has earned respect of former teammates, opponents]

You hear the phrase “coachable player” often in sports. That certainly applies to Hossa, who likely got that coach’s dream tag because you don’t need to teach him much. The right wing, two goals away from reaching 500 for his career, has earned respect from those who have coached him.

“As far as being a great player and top player, he’s consistent. He plays the game exactly how you'd want to play it on the technical side of things,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s just got a real good hockey IQ and plays equally hard on both sides. I've been fortunate to coach a lot of good players. I don't quantify exactly the number where I'd slot him, but he's way up there.”

Jacques Martin was coaching the Ottawa Senators when Hossa began his NHL career there. Martin saw the potential with Hossa on both sides of the puck and put the right wing with Magnus Arvedson and Radek Bonk.

“That line was a checking line until Marian joined them and then became more of a scoring and threatening line and one that could play against the opposition’s best line,” said Martin, who put Hossa up there with Daniel Alfredsson as two of his favorites to coach. “Right from the start, I think he had great offensive skill. But I always felt he was a strong player both ways. He’s been one of the better players as far as back pressure; every game he’d backtrack and steal pucks from the opposition.”

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There are some players that coaches have to work with more than others. Some players you can just throw out there and they’ll always know what to do. Hossa has been the latter for a good part of his career, and it’s one reason why he’s remained a favorite among those who have coached him.

“I always felt he was a strong player on both ends of the rink, very responsible and mature kid. When you have an opportunity to coach people like that when they’re young, you hope as a coach you can help them develop some values and help them in their career,” Martin said. “He’s always been a player that’s been a real pleasure to coach.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: