Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Bobby Hull, Denis Savard heap high praise on Marian Hossa

marian-hossa-blackhawks-1-18-16.png

Blackhawks: Bobby Hull, Denis Savard heap high praise on Marian Hossa

It's no secret what kind of impact Marian Hossa has had on the Blackhawks, who knew exactly what they were getting when they signed him to a 12-year contract in 2009.

You won't see many individual accolades on his resume, but you will see that he's appeared in five of the last eight Stanley Cup Finals, and has reached the Conference Final in six of the last eight seasons. 

He's a winner everywhere he goes.

Sitting at 494 career goals, Hossa is approaching another impressive milestone, seeking to become the 44th player in NHL history to join the 500-goal club and adding to his illustrious career.

One member of that club is Bobby Hull, who ranks 16th on the all-time scoring list with 610 goals. And if he had the opportunity to play alongside the Slovakian winger, the Blackhawks legend and current ambassador believes the goals would have come much easier.

[SHOP: Buy a Marian Hossa jersey]

"There is no one that plays this game of hockey that works any harder than Marian Hossa," Hull told CSN's Chris Boden during a recent Blackhawks game. "And sometimes I get a little upset with him: 'Don't work so hard on your defensive game then when you get a chance offensively, you're tired out and you can't put the puck in the net.' But he is a fabulous addition to this hockey club. He can play with anyone. He'll make a hockey player.

"You asked me earlier if I would have liked to play with him, I could have kicked 50 in with Marian without a stick.

"If I was coaching this team, I would say, 'Keep your eye on Marian Hossa and play that same way, that same dedicated, up and down way.' I played a different style. I would have loved to play with him because he would have done all the work and I'd have finished it all off."

He may not always get the recognition he deserves, but you don't have to convince anyone in Chicago that Hossa is one of the best two-way players in the game, a great example on and off the ice, and a three-time Stanley Cup champion with a legitimate chance to add another ring or two before his career is all said and done.

Like Hull, Denis Savard, who had 473 career goals in the NHL, was also known as one of the best goal-scorers of his era and believes Hossa could be near the top of that list if he really wanted to.

"The biggest thing for him — and there's a few things obviously, a lot of things that he's done great for this team and this organization — but he's really taught some of our kids to play both ends of the rink, offense and defense," Savard told CSN. "I've never seen a guy come back in his own end as hard as he (does). And I see when we watch our team play, you see some of our young guys do that all the time now. I think they're watching the, I don't want to call him the old man because I think he's going to play quite a few more years, but he's towards the end of his career and he still has a lot of success.

[MORE: SportsTalk Live: Are the Blackhawks better than last year?]

"Part of it too because you look at his numbers offensively, they're great numbers, he's going to have 500 goals here coming up soon. But I think it's suffered his game offensively the way he's played defensively, the way he comes back so hard in his own end and spends so much energy on defense.

"His numbers could be 650 goals, but he'd be the one to tell you, 'But I've got three Cups.' He's a great example for our organization and young players what it takes to win Cups."

Hossa is 37 years of age, but he still plays like he's 27.

Coach Joel Quenneville said during training camp that he's "never seen him skate as well as he's skating right now."

Savard retired at the age of 37 after his 17th season. Hossa is right there, currently in his 17th season, but Savard doesn't see him slowing down anytime soon.

"I still see the Marian Hossa that we saw two, three, four, five years ago playing the same way and I don't think that's going to go away," Savard said. "For me, the biggest thing that went away ... my hands were starting to be not as good. So when your hands get a little slow, your feet have to slow down. That's when I knew I was pretty much in trouble. ... Once I lost my speed, my days were pretty much down hill from there. I don't see that in (Hossa) yet."

Check out the full interview in the video above.

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

9-20_anton_forsberg_ap.jpg
AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.