Marian Hossa has earned respect of former teammates, opponents


Marian Hossa has earned respect of former teammates, opponents

Daniel Alfredsson got his first glimpse of Marian Hossa during the 1997-98 season.

Hossa was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury and only played seven games with the Ottawa Senators that season, his first in the NHL, but Alfredsson saw plenty of potential.

“You could tell right away that he was going to be a player,” said Alfredsson. “I was impressed with his work ethic and obviously his speed and raw talents. Once he made the team full the following year, he became an important player right away. The player and the person you always wish the best for because he always brings everything.”

Nearly 20 seasons later, Hossa is one of the best and most respected players in the league. He’s also on the cusp of 500 career NHL goals, sitting at 498 heading into Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. For those who opposed or played alongside Hossa, the talent on offense and defense was undeniable from the start.

“It’s very impressive, 500 goals. To some people it may not sound like a lot, but when you break it down and do the math, that’s 10 50-goal seasons or 20 25-goal seasons, those are incredible numbers,” said Patrick Sharp, who was part of three Stanley Cup teams with Hossa. “But when I think of Hoss, I don’t think of the goal scoring. I think of him as a great teammate, a great friend and a guy a coach can put on the ice in any situation and any time of the game. And that’s why he’s so valuable to a team.”

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Marty Turco was Hossa’s teammate for one season; the goaltender faced Hossa over several other seasons. Turco believes he fared pretty well vs. Hossa during his career — “that’s why I’m smiling right now,” he said. But from a goaltender’s perspective, trying to figure out what Hossa was going to do was always a challenge.

“You always paid attention to a few guys. When Hossa’s playing, wherever he was, you knew where he was on the ice. He’s that adept at getting lost,” Turco said. “For me, I had to get out high enough because of his closing speed. Forehand, backhand, deke, he had no tendencies; he had everything in the bag.”

Alfredsson described Hossa’s shot as “deceptive.”

“He shoots in stride better than almost everybody,” Alfredsson said. “He doesn’t have a really hard shot. If you watch in practice, something goalies aren’t afraid of in terms of power. It’s the deceptiveness. It makes his hard for goalies to read when he shoots in stride. He obviously reads the goalies well.”

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Hossa has closed in on 500 goals while maintaining a strong defensive game. While Hossa said he learned plenty in that department from Pavel Datsyuk when the two played together in Detroit in 2007-08, Hossa’s always had a strong two-way game. In that respect, he’s become a goaltender and defenseman’s best friend.

“Obviously other teams see him as an offensive player and the force he is on the ice. But you never see the little plays, just coming back to support, especially when he’s on a line with (Jonathan) Toews for a long time,” former teammate Johnny Oduya said. “Playing off him, helping him out, too, makes Toews a better defensive player. Whoever is on that (other) side is going to have an easier job because of Hoss taking so much responsibility on his side. As a D man, it’s great to have that.”

Hossa has achieved some great things in his career. He’s played in more than 1,000 regular-season games. He’s won three Stanley Cups. He should probably have won Selke Trophy or two, too, but that’s another discussion for another story. Now he’s on the cusp of scoring 500 goals. Hossa has become one of the great players in the league. Those who saw him in those early years aren’t surprised.

“I consider myself lucky to have played with him,” Alfredsson said. “I tried to help him when he came in the league, but we helped each other during our time together. I have a lot of respect for him, and we work very well together. He’ll be a friend for life.”

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.

When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.

“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”

The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.

Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.

“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.”