Little Zoja Hossa grabbed her father Marian’s nose as he was honored for his 500th career goal, stealing the pregame ceremony spotlight the way her dad does pucks from opposing players.
“I wasn’t sure, because John (McDonough, Blackhawks president) had a great speech, and I didn’t know the camera was on us,” Hossa said after the game. “The kids made a pretty funny moment.”
It was a great opening to a great night for Hossa, who’s gotten off to a very nice start to this season. Hossa has seven points (three goals, four assists) through his first eight games and looks rejuvenated, especially since jumping onto the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.
“I think he's really strong on the puck like usual,” Patrick Kane said. “You know, maybe he's just getting some more bounces. He's been playing that way for a long time, so it seems like he's finally getting some bounces and being able to put up some numbers. Yeah, great start for him. I think with Hoss, we're kind of familiar with it where he's going to play the same all the time. When he scores like he has been or produces like he has been, it's huge for our team.”
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The Blackhawks have always appreciated what Hossa’s brought. If there’s ever a time he frustrates them, it’s when they have to face him in battle drills during practices.
“Sucks,” Brent Seabrook said to laughs. “I went against him last time we did it. It’s like you’re going against two guys the way he’s able to use his stick. You gotta deal with his body, his feet and you think you’re in good position to poke the puck away and he smacks your stick away.”
His game overall has been strong. Hossa has said several times that, as disappointing as it was that the Blackhawks lost in the first round last season, the long summer was beneficial to him physically. That, and he hit the ground running with the World Cup of Hockey, where he was a big part of Team Europe’s surprising run to the final.
“World Cup was great because I played every night and plenty more minutes, so I got in good shape,” Hossa said. “And coming to Chicago, I had a good opportunity right now playing with the two skilled Russian players. The last two games have been fun and good thing we start winning.”
After a long offseason Hossa looks refreshed and energetic. Last season, there were questions as to how much he had left in his career. Judging from his start, he’s definitely not done yet.
“He’s such an accomplished player,” Seabrook said. “What he’s been able to do in his career has been amazing to watch from afar and to play with him and see it firsthand. Nice to see him get that recognition last night and see how he was able to produce, play well. Seems like he’s getting better with age.”