Blackhawks

It's official: Blackhawks' Marian Hossa elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

It's official: Blackhawks' Marian Hossa elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

It's official: Marian Hossa is heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In his first year of eligibility, Hossa was announced on Wednesday as one of six members from the Class of 2020, along with Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre, Doug Wilson and Ken Holland (builder). He needed more than 75 percent of the votes — at least 14 from the 18-member selection committee — to be elected.

"This is an amazing day for me and my family," Hossa said in a conference call. "I would like to congratulate all the six people with me. It's an amazing day for everybody. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to start playing in the 1997-98 National Hockey League and I never thought I would have an amazing career.

"My dream came true when I won the first Stanley Cup. This is definitely something special to be in the top, top players and the people in [the] National Hockey League. This means so much to me. I'm humbled and really grateful."

Drafted No. 12 overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1997, Hossa registered 1,134 points in 1,309 games across 19 seasons with five different teams and won three Stanley Cups as a member of the Blackhawks. He ranks 35th all-time in goals (525), 30th in postseason points (149) and was the 80th player in NHL history to hit the 1,000-point mark. 

Despite his career being cut prematurely because of a progressive skin disorder, Hossa finished as an eight-time 30-goal scorer and three-time 40-goal scorer and was widely regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in hockey. Chicago was fortunate to witness it first-hand for eight years.

"One of those players that really set the table of playing the right way," Joel Quenneville told NBC Sports Chicago in January. "And as a coach, you couldn't ask for a guy that demonstrates exactly what your message is on how we want to play structurally, in all zones, all situations. Protects the puck, keeps the puck, tough to take it away from him. It was like, 'OK, this is the perfect player.'"

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Hossa's international numbers also puts him in the conversation as one of the greatest Slovakian players ever. He racked up 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 12 games at the IIHF World Junior Championship, 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) in 52 games at the IIHF World Championship and 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 19 games at the Winter Olympics. 

Not only is he a Hall of Fame player on the ice, but off the ice as well. Hossa is as universally respected within the hockey community as anyone, and the epitome of what it means to be a professional.

"You can't replace Marian Hossa," GM Stan Bowman said in October. "He was such an important part of our team. We never would've won any of our Stanley Cups without Marian's contributions. He did all the things that you need a player to do to win. I'm not sure there was ever the full appreciation of what he did on a nightly basis to help our team win."

There is now. Hossa is in the Hall and he couldn't be more deserving of the honor.

Why Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy are 'a natural fit' on Blackhawks' defense

Why Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy are 'a natural fit' on Blackhawks' defense

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan hadn't played in an NHL game that counted since having shoulder surgery in December. He had six points (one goal, five assists) and a +/- rating of +10 in 29 games with Chicago before the procedure.

The NHL pause on March 12, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed him to recover and be back in the Hawks' lineup for the NHL's 24-team postseason tournament.

De Haan, who missed the majority of the Blackhawks' Phase 3 training camp dealing with a family emergency, was on the Hawks' second pairing with defenseman Connor Murphy in Saturday's 6-4 Game 1 win over the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. 

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Murphy, who missed time at camp with a groin injury, had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) and a +/- rating of +2 in 58 games with the Hawks during the regular season.

Together, de Haan and Murphy were a dependable pair against the speedy and skilled hometown Oilers, and got better as the game went on. Both D-men logged a +/- rating of 0 in Game 1 with four hits and one blocked shot a piece. Murphy also fired four shots at Edmonton's net. 

Related: Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews lift Blackhawks over Oilers in Game 1

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton liked what he saw from de Haan in his first official game back since the surgery, and from the pairing as a whole.

"Very solid and more and more comfortable as he gets more time on the ice," Colliton said of de Haan's game on Saturday. "Together with Murph, they haven’t played together a whole lot, seems like a natural fit. But with the injuries both had – Murph was injured early and de Haan the whole second half – they haven’t had the chance to play together much. Now they’re together, I think they’ll get better and better as we go. They were solid for us."

Murphy felt the Hawks' team game as well as his and de Haan's relationship off the ice allowed the pair to be effective so far in the tournament. 

"It's been great playing with Haaner," Murphy said. "These games haven't been so hard defending against St. Louis (Wednesday's 4-0 exhibition win) or Edmonton so far just because of how great we played as a team and limited a lot of their speed and offense. 

Related: 5 Blackhawks historic facts from Game 1 win of Stanley Cup Qualifiers over Oilers

"Overall, it's always nice playing with a veteran guy who's so smart and predictable out there and communicates a lot, and I feel like me and Haaner have a good relationship even off the ice that leads us to playing smoothly together when we're out there. I don't think it takes long to develop any sort of chemistry, especially since the team's been together all year, whether there's injuries or not. It's definitely nice to be paired with him."

If de Haan and Murphy continue to play how they did against Edmonton in Game 1, they'll be providing a lot of balance and reliability to the Hawks' blue line. The Blackhawks can definitely use a repeat in that department as the Oilers will be looking to put forth a better effort on their home turf in Game 2.

The Blackhawks take on the Oilers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifier at 9:30 p.m. CT on Monday. 

Who could take Drake Caggiula's spot in Blackhawks lineup for Game 2

Who could take Drake Caggiula's spot in Blackhawks lineup for Game 2

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Sunday that Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula has been suspended for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers after delivering an illegal check to the head on Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis in Game 1.

Caggiula logged only 11:25 of ice time on Saturday but registered four hits and one blocked shot in the 6-4 win. He was slotted in as the left wing on the third line with Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat.

The Blackhawks traveled to Edmonton with 27 skaters, which means they'll have several options on who could take Caggiula's spot in the lineup on Monday.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a video conference call on Sunday afternoon that a decision has not been made yet, probably because Caggiula's suspension was announced minutes before his media availability.

"We wish we had him in the lineup, but we won't," Colliton said. "Someone has to go in and make a difference. I don't know who it's going to be yet."

The five forwards to choose from are MacKenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, John Quenneville and Dylan Sikura. Entwistle and Kurashev are the two players from this group who have yet to appear in an NHL game.

If the Blackhawks are looking to add another skilled player on a line that already includes Dach and DeBrincat, Sikura is the no-brainer pick. He played top-line minutes in Rockford this season and had a strong showing during the team scrimmages in training camp 2.0, particularly when he stepped in for Jonathan Toews on the first line and power-play unit during the captain's brief absence.

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Sikura also has the most NHL experience (47 games) of the five candidates, which means he could comfortably step right in and not feel out of place. That's important in the playoffs.

If the Blackhawks are looking to replace Caggiula with someone who plays a similar style, Hagel fits that script. He led the IceHogs this season in goals (19) and scored most of them in front of the net. He's a grinder who could go to the dirty areas to help retrieve pucks if that's what the Blackhawks feel best complements Dach and DeBrincat.

The downside is, Hagel has just one regular-season game under his belt, so there would likely be a feeling out period that the Blackhawks may not be able to afford.

It should be noted that Quenneville is the only player of the five who has postseason experience in the pros, although it's a very limited sample size. He registered four points (three goals, one assist) in four games for the AHL's Albany Devils in 2016-17. 

The Oilers recorded 47 hits in Game 1; their hits per 60-minute average during the regular season was 22.2. They were more physical than usual, but you wonder how much of that had to do with the fact they didn't have the puck much at even strength.

That's something Colliton and his coaching staff will discuss when deciding who could be the forward to step in for Caggiula on Monday.

"It’s established a standard for how they’re going to deal with those types of hits," Colliton said. "As the series goes on I’m sure it’s going to get a little more physical, so now we know."