He was everything they needed and more. When Marian Hossa became the greatest free-agent signing in Chicago sports history on July 1, 2009, all bets were off and the sky was the limit for the Blackhawks.
When the Hawks were eliminated in the Conference Finals by the Red Wings in 2009, they knew they were close but were lacking something.
"I know he really appreciated coming to the Hawks at a crucial time because we needed something to get over that hump and I think he was a huge part of it," former Hawk forward Bryan Bickell, who played a role on all three recent Chicago Cup teams (2010, 2013, 2015) with Hossa said over the phone after Hossa's big news was announced. "For him, I'm sure he wasn't thinking about the Hall of Fame, he was thinking about (the) team first, winning and now he's in this stage of his life and getting the opportunity so short after, which is pretty cool for him."
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Former Hawk and two-time Stanley Cup champ Dave Bolland thinks Hossa getting into the Hall is a mark of how special the Blackhawks golden age squad that earned three Cups was.
"One-hundred percent." Bolland said. "I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot more Hall of Famers from that team. It's just great to see guys you played with and a guy like Hoss that is just an all-around great person, and he did a lot for us, to see him get that and be a Hall of Famer is unbelievable."
Related: Which Chicago Blackhawk is next up for the Hockey Hall of Fame?
One of the Blackhawks dynasty's most valuable players becoming a Hall of Famer on his first ballot no doubt illustrates how special that team was. His accomplishments flew under the radar at times.
The majority of the attention was always on Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and Hossa's defensive prowess — that saw him end his playing career with an unbelievable +/- rating of +245 — often went unnoticed as well. The main thing is the Selection Committee recognized Hossa's immense value and there should be more of his Blackhawks teammates joining him in the Hall in the near future.
Related: How the Selection Committee chooses who gets into Hockey Hall of Fame
The NHL and NHL Players' Association have reached a tentative agreement on the protocols and terms of Phases 3 (formal training camps) and 4 (Return to Play plan), according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
The two sides continue to work on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which means nothing is official until the NHLPA executive committee and NHL Board of Governors ratify the package. A full player membership vote will also take place and includes members from the seven non-playoff teams.
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If all goes as planned and the deal is approved, here are the most notable items to circle from the 40-page document:
- Any player that opts out of Phases 3 and 4 will not be penalized in any way, but they must notify their NHL teams in writing by no later than 4 p.m. CT on Tuesday. That deadline could get pushed back if an overall agreement isn't reached before then.
- There will be a limit of 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies in Phase 3, and only players eligible to play in the 2019-20 season resumption are permitted to skate. A maximum of 52 personnel members — a minimum of three coaches and maximum of 31 players — will be allowed to travel for Phase 4.
- Each of the 24 NHL teams in Phases 3 and 4 must submit its list of participating players by Thursday. Formal training camps are expected to open on Monday, July 13.
- Players must undergo a pre-participate medical exam, and if both the doctor administering the exam and the team's infectious disease expert determine that a player is at "substantial risk of developing a serious illness," the player will be deemed unfit to play. The player will, however, be allowed to seek a second opinion.
- If a player who tests positive for COVID-19 or develops symptoms in either Phase 3 or 4, the team is not permitted to share that information with the media or public, absent prior approval from the NHL, in consultation with the NHLPA.
- If an individual leaves the bubble environment in the two respective hub cities without permission, the individual may be subject to consequences up to and including removal. In addition, violations could result in significant financial penalties for the club and/or loss of draft choices, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
- Players' families will be allowed to join the players for the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, which will be hosted by Edmonton.
A source told Scott Powers of The Athletic that Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook will try to play if the season continues and the NHL sees its 24-team playoff format kick off.
"Just a month ago, the Blackhawks didn’t think Seabrook would be far enough in his rehab to be considered an option, but he’s made strides and has expressed his desire to try to play again this season," Powers writes.
The three-time Stanley Cup champ Hawks blueliner had surgeries on his right shoulder in December, left hip in January and right hip February.
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The NHL is targeting July 13 for the start of team training camps and August 1 for the start of the postseason tournament, which has the Blackhawks taking on the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series.
Related: Calvin de Haan takes next step in recovery process, joins Blackhawks for Phase 2
The two hub cities for the playoffs are reportedly Edmonton and Toronto.
Powers also mentioned that Seabrook hasn't been cleared for contact yet but that he has been skating. He last played December 15 in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild