Slavko Bekovic

Franchise-altering Marian Hossa named to Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Franchise-altering Marian Hossa named to Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

Perhaps nobody said it better than Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough: “The Chicago Blackhawks do not win a Stanley Cup, let alone three, without Marian Hossa.”

Hossa’s arrival in free agency in the summer of 2009 sent a message to the rest of the league that the Blackhawks were not only a destination for elite players, but also that they were a franchise all-in on trying to win Stanley Cups. “It’s not just because of his performance on the ice,” said McDonough. “Sometimes culturally it’s just to be in the same locker room with a guy who comports himself professionally, knows how to win, great work ethic, terrific habits.”


Hossa had a presence within the Blackhawks’ dressing room and immediately earned the respect of his teammates. Not only does he receive lots of credit for the franchise’s culture change, but many credit his influence on Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as a major reason why they became the NHL superstars they are today. Because of that presence, there is certainly no coincidence that since Hossa’s departure, the Blackhawks have not seen the playoffs. “You can’t replace Marian Hossa,” said Stan Bowman before the start of the season. “I think we’ve certainly felt it the last couple years. He was such an important part of our team. We never would have won any of our Stanley Cups without Marian’s contributions.” 

Marian Hossa spent eight seasons in Chicago, amassing 415 points in 534 games with the Blackhawks. In the playoffs, Hossa racked up 73 points in 107 games and the Blackhawks reached the postseason in all eight of his seasons in Chicago. For his contributions to Chicago both on and off the ice, he makes the Blackhawks All-Decade Team as the second line right winger.

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Antti Niemi named backup goalie on Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Antti Niemi named backup goalie on Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

It’s almost hard to remember a time when Corey Crawford wasn’t commanding the net for the Chicago Blackhawks. But before Crawford took the reins in the 2010-11 season, the Blackhawks had some major decisions to make between the pipes.

When the franchise had its resurgence in 2008, they did so with a goaltending tandem of Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet – a pair of free-agent signings that had their ups and downs. Before the 2009-10 campaign, Khabibulin was allowed to walk in free agency and the Blackhawks went with Huet and a relatively unproven 26-year old in Antti Niemi.

The decision turned out to be a wise one.

Niemi burst onto the scene in the second game of the regular season, registering a shutout against the Florida Panthers in his home country of Finland. And after getting just the occasional start in the first two months of the season, he took over as the team’s number one goalie in December and ultimately guided them to their first Stanley Cup victory in 49 seasons.

Often times, Niemi had little to do in the crease, regularly needing to make fewer than 30 saves behind a stellar Blackhawks blue line, but his mark on the team was stamped with some dominating playoff performances.

Niemi shut out the Nashville Predators twice in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but his greatest impact came against his future team – the San Jose Sharks. He allowed just seven goals in the Blackhawks’ four-game sweep of San Jose in the Western Conference Finals, posting a sparkling .949 save percentage.

He is one of just five goaltenders in franchise history to win a Stanley Cup, and despite spending less than two seasons in Chicago, Niemi’s 2009-10 season easily earns him a spot in our Blackhawks All-Decade Team as the backup goalie.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Marcus Kruger joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Marcus Kruger joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

Stanley Cup winning teams always have a number of unsung heroes. Players that do a lot of the dirty work and get very little of the glory and attention. Marcus Kruger was one of those players, but still, his career is defined by one major moment.

At 1:08 a.m. CT on May 20, 2015, Kruger cemented his legacy with the Blackhawks, burying a rebound off a Brent Seabrook shot, ending the longest game in Blackhawks franchise history. It was Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, and Kruger notched his first career overtime goal, giving the team new life in a series they ultimately went on to win.

Kruger featured in 472 career games with the Blackhawks between 2010 and 2019, and played in an additional 87 in the playoffs. For a guy who never even reached 30 points in a single-season — amassing just 123 in his entire career — he certainly left a lasting impact on the ice and with teammates.

“He was a crucial part [of] those Stanley Cup runs. Coming back to Chicago the way he did too, the way Joel [Quenneville] relied on him to kill penalties and win draws and do those things,” Jonathan Toews said at the 2019 Blackhawks Convention. “I’d say Krugs is another one of those guys that just runs right into the mess, right into the corner, takes a beating, you know he’s not the biggest guy, but he just found a way to get things done out there.

"I think Chicago fans have always kind of been great about recognizing that in a player and seeing what they bring to the team and seeing that work ethic. I think they’ll definitely remember that and value that down the road.”

Kruger will certainly be remembered as the anchor on the fourth line for some terrific Blackhawks teams, and for that, he is recognized as the fourth member of the Blackhawks All-Decade team as — fittingly enough — the fourth line center.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.