Sunday will be a special day for the Chicago Blackhawks. No, it’s not just because they’re playing the Detroit Red Wings, but it’s also Marian Hossa’s 1000th NHL game. He’s come a long way since being drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 1997, and he’s had a lot of wonderful moments in his hockey career. But one stands out because it took three tries to make it happen.
Let’s go back in time to 2008, when Hossa was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Atlanta Thrashers. That was the year they went to the Stanley Cup Finals and played against the Red Wings, and even though Hossa did well, the Penguins lost. That summer, in the hopes of winning the Cup, he signed with the Red Wings for a year. He got his wish and made it to the finals in 2009 against the Penguins. If that wasn’t awkward enough, the Penguins won the Cup, making Hossa one very sad panda.
In the summer of 2009, Hossa had had enough of losing two years in a row and signed a 12-year contract with the Blackhawks. They’d just been to the Western Conference Finals against the Red Wings, so there was promise in them. He didn’t join the team until November because of shoulder surgery, but he became a part of their core that strengthened the team and got them to the 2010 playoffs.
In the fifth game of their quarterfinal series against the Nashville Predators, Hossa received a five-minute boarding major as the Blackhawks were struggling to tie the game. They did just that with seconds left in regulation, and after Hossa sprang from the box in overtime, he scored the game-winning goal. As Eddie Olczyk later said, he went from the goat horns to the penthouse in no time at all.
We know about the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, when Patrick Kane scored that impossible overtime goal. But there’s something that’s overlooked by many people. After Jonathan Toews hoisted the Cup as captain, the first person to whom he handed it was Hossa. After three years and three tries, he finally got to take his turn around the ice with it.
Here’s to Marian Hossa on his 1000th game. May he have many memorable games – and another chance to raise the Cup – to come.