It's no secret Marian Hossa is benefitting greatly from a lengthy offseason, something he's not used to.
After appearing in six Conference Finals and four trips to the Stanley Cup Final — three of which ended in victories with the Blackhawks — in the last nine years, the 37-year-old winger, who turns 38 in January, took full advantage of the extended rest by recharging mentally and physically.
It's reaping benefits early.
Hossa already has 11 goals in 19 games this season following a campaign in which he had 13 goals in 64 contests, the lowest goal output of his career. He's also averaging nearly a point per game, and three of his 11 goals have been game-winners, proving the chatter about Hossa being on the decline was a bit premature.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
The question now is, how long does he want to continue playing?
Hossa signed a 12-year, $63.3 million deal in 2009, which means he'd be 42 years old by the time his contract runs out.
His $5.275 million cap hit has been a bargain, but the underlying factor is that beginning next year, his base salary drops to $1 million annually and will stay that way until his contract ends in 2020-21 after it had been north of $4 million for the first eight.
Despite all that, Hossa has indicated he has no plans to retire any time soon and intends on playing out the remainder of his contract. Here's what he confirmed to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in his 30 Thoughts column:
We’ve talked a lot this season about the grind of the compressed schedule and the World Cup of Hockey, but there is one player who definitely benefitted from the extra action: Marian Hossa.
“In some of those games, he was playing 23 minutes,” said Bowman, part of Team North America’s management group. “We were staying at the same hotel and I asked him if he was okay with that. He said, ‘I feel great.’ We’d talked about resting him during the season, but now? We’ll see how it goes.”
Hossa said he benefitted from the Blackhawks’ unusually long summer and, at age 37, plans to play the four remaining years of his contract.
Who can blame him? Nobody is having more fun playing hockey right now than Hossa, who's like fine wine: He seemingly gets better with age.