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Marian Hossa



marianhossa Marian Hossa

Marián Hossa (born January 12, 1979) is a Slovak professional ice hockey player who currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Hossa has also played for the Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings. Over the course of his career, he has made four NHL All-Star Game appearances. After being drafted into the NHL, he played one season with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL), winning the Memorial Cup in 1998. On July 1, 2009, he signed a 12-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Internationally, Hossa has represented Slovakia in numerous tournaments, but has remained medal-less in two World Junior Championships, seven World Championships, two Winter Olympics and one World Cup.

Playing career

Ottawa Senators

Hossa was drafted in the first round, 12th overall, by the Ottawa Senators in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft from HC Dukla Trenčín of the Slovak Extraliga. Shortly thereafter, he was selected fifth overall in the 1997 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft by the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL, acquiring his major junior rights in the event that he did not immediately stick with the Senators in the NHL.[1] In fact, after 7 games in the NHL, the Senators assigned Hossa to junior and he tallied 45 goals and 40 assists for 85 points in 53 games with the Winter Hawks in 1997–98, earning him the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as WHL rookie of the year, as well as CHL and WHL West First Team All-Star honors. He led the Winter Hawks to a President’s Cup as WHL champions en route to the 1998 Memorial Cup championship.[2] Late in the third period of a tied championship game against the Guelph Storm, Hossa collided with Guelph forward Ryan Davis and suffered a serious knee injury, forcing him out of the game. The Winter Hawks went on to clinch the championship in overtime and Hossa returned to the ice on a chair as his teammates pushed him around with the Memorial Cup to celebrate the victory.[1] With 7 points in 4 tournament games, Hossa was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team, along with teammate Andrej Podkonický.

The injury kept Hossa from joining the Senators for his rookie season in 1998–99 until December. Despite missing two months, Hossa managed 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points in 60 games to earn NHL All-Rookie honours and finish second to Colorado‘s Chris Drury in Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year.[3]

The following year, in 1999–00, Hossa improved to 29 goals and 56 points. However, late in the season, on March 11, 2000, he took part in a tragic on-ice accident, inadvertently high-sticking Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Bryan Berard on a follow-through. The resulting one-inch laceration nearly forced doctors to remove the eye and nearly ended Berard’s career. Deeply regretful and concerned, Hossa went to visit Berard in hospital the next day to offer an apology to which Berard absolved him of any responsibility.[4] Berard has since recovered from the injury and continued his NHL career.

Hossa recorded 32 goals and 75 points in 2000–01, finishing second in team scoring behind Alexei Yashin[5] and earning his first NHL All-Star Game appearance in Denver. In the off-season, his rookie contract expired and Hossa became a restricted free agent. Unable to come to terms before training camp for the 2001–02 season, Hossa sat out the first two weeks before signing a three-year, $8.5 million contract on September 26, 2001.[6] Despite Hossa’s lucrative new contract, his production would dip to 66 points in the first year of the deal.

He would regain form in 2002–03 with a career-high 45 goals and a team-leading 80 points,[7] while competing in the 2003 NHL All-Star Game in Florida. He then led the Senators to a deep 2003 playoff run where they were eliminated in seven games by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion New Jersey Devils in the conference finals. Hossa led the Senators with 16 points in 18 post-season games. The following season, he led the Senators in scoring for the second consecutive season with a personal best 82 points, then added 4 points in 7 games in the playoffs as the Senators were eliminated by the Maple Leafs in the first round.

Due to the NHL lockout, Hossa spent the 2004–05 season in Europe. Beginning the season in Slovakia, he joined Mora IK of the Elitserien to play with his younger brother Marcel after 19 games with HC Dukla Trenčín.[8] After 32 points in 24 games with Mora IK, Hossa returned to HC Dukla Trenčín where he completed the season for a total of 42 points in 22 games with the club.

Atlanta Thrashers

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Hossa while a member of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007

With NHL play set to resume the following season in 2005–06 and Hossa’s previous contract expired, he signed a three-year, $18-million deal with the Senators. However, the contract only precipitated a deal that sent him that afternoon to the Atlanta Thrashers along with defenceman Greg de Vries for star forward Dany Heatley, who had requested a trade following the death of teammate Dan Snyder in a car crash for which he was responsible.[9] Hossa joined star winger Ilya Kovalchuk and scored 39 goals and 53 assists for 92 points, surpassing his previous personal best by ten points, in his first season with the Thrashers.

In the 2006–07 season, he made franchise history as the first Thrasher to score 100 points in one season, finishing with 43 goals and 57 assists; along with a plus/minus rating of +18. He was named to his third All-Star Game in Dallas where he notched four assists. In the final game of the regular season, Hossa recorded two assists against the Tampa Bay Lightning to achieve the 100-point mark,[10] which still stands as the franchise’s single-season points record. The season also marked the first division title and post-season appearance for the Thrashers, clinching the Southeast for the third playoff seed. Hossa, however, only managed 1 point in 4 games as the Thrashers were eliminated in the first round by the New York Rangers.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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Hossa with the Penguins in 2008

In the last year of his contract with the Thrashers in 2007–08 and with the increasing likelihood of the team missing the playoffs, Hossa was acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline on February 26, 2008, along with Pascal Dupuis, in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito, and the Penguins’ first-round pick in 2008 (Daultan Leveille).[11] In his Penguins debut two days later, Hossa injured his medial collateral ligament in a knee-on-knee collision with Glen Murray of the Boston Bruins.[12] He missed the next six contests before rejoining the team for the conclusion of the regular season, playing on a line with Dupuis and Sidney Crosby. Hossa completed the regular season with 66 points in 72 games split between the Thrashers and Penguins. He had also appeared in his fourth All-Star Game while still with the Thrashers as the host-city.

Complementing an already high-powered offense led by Evgeni Malkin and Crosby, Hossa proved to be a vital cog in the Penguins run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. He scored his first playoff overtime goal[citation needed] in Game 5, of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, his second of the contest, against Henrik Lundqvist to clinch the series, putting the Penguins into the Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.[13] Eliminating the Flyers in five games, Hossa and the Penguins met the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals. After scoring the opening goal to help stave off elimination in a triple-overtime Game 5 victory,[14] Hossa scored his team-leading 12th and final post-season goal in sixth and deciding game to pull the Penguins within one goal. However, the Penguins were ultimately defeated by the Red Wings 3–2. Hossa nearly forced overtime with the tying goal, but was stopped by goaltender Chris Osgood in the final seconds of the game.[15] He finished third in playoff scoring with 26 points, behind Conn Smythe Trophy-winner Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings and linemate Sidney Crosby. Hossa’s performance helped shed a reputation for postseason underachievement, as indicated by previous playoff dryspells with the Senators and Thrashers.[13][14]

Detroit Red Wings

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Hossa with the Red Wings in 2009

Despite a reported five-year contract offer worth $7 million annually from the Penguins in attempts to retain his services, on July 1, 2008, Hossa signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings worth $7.45 million. Hossa had also reportedly turned down a multi-year offer from the Edmonton Oilers worth at least $9 million per season.[16] Hossa explained that he opted for the shorter-term contract in hopes of a better opportunity to win a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings.[17] With Wings’ veteran forward Kirk Maltby already wearing Hossa’s number 18, Hossa switched to 81 with Detroit.[18] Hossa notched his first goal as a Red Wing on October 18, an overtime winner against the New York Rangers, which also marked the 300th goal of his career.[19] Hossa scored a goal in his return to Pittsburgh with the Red Wings on February 8, where he was heavily booed by the Pittsburgh fans.

After missing two games due to a neck injury late in the season, Hossa was taken off the ice in a stretcher after falling head first into the boards following a check from St. Louis Blues defenceman Roman Polák on March 3, 2009. Escaping serious injury after having laid motionless on the ice for several minutes, it was revealed that in addition to minor neck complications, Hossa also suffered a bruised knee and was listed as day-to-day.[20][21] Despite the injury, Hossa returned to finish the season with a team-leading 40 goals for his third career 40-goal season.

Late in the regular season, on March 23, 2009, Hossa was quoted as saying he would like to sign a long-term career deal with the Red Wings for the upcoming season. He also stated he is willing to take less money to continue to play for Detroit, saying, “I know if I go somewhere else, I could have more, but I’m willing to take less to stay here. Hopefully things work out.” Hossa’s comments came just several months after the Red Wings signed forward Henrik Zetterberg to a twelve-year contract extension.[22]

As the Red Wings attempted to defend their 2008 Stanley Cup championship, Hossa met his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the two clubs met for the second straight year in the Finals. The prospect of Hossa losing to the team he left in order to secure a Stanley Cup championship received considerable media attention.[23] Prior to eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks in the semi-finals, Hossa admitted meeting the Penguins in the finals “would definitely be very interesting.”[24] Ultimately, Hossa did, in fact, lose to his former team, falling by a 2-1 score in the seventh game.[25] Immediately following the game, Hossa was asked whether he regretted his decision to leave the Penguins, to which he replied, “Regret? I don’t regret it. It could be different circumstances if I sign in Pittsburgh, they probably couldn’t sign some other players and they’d be a different team.”[26] Hossa finished the 2009 playoffs with six goals and nine assists for a total of 15 points over 23 games.[27]

Chicago Blackhawks

On July 1, 2009, Hossa signed a 12-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks worth $62.8 million. The contract is front-loaded with $59.3 million due in the first eight years for an average cap hit of $5.2 million per season.[28] It was also the most lucrative deal in team history until defenceman Duncan Keith signed a 13-year, $72 million contract several months later in December 2009.[29] The signing of Hossa by the Blackhawks coincided with the departure of the team’s leading scorer and MVP from the previous season, Martin Havlat, to the Minnesota Wild that same day.[23] Shortly after signing Hossa, the team disclosed that the veteran forward was still rehabilitating a shoulder injury he sustained during the previous postseason.[30][31] The injury will require Hossa to undergo surgery, and may cause him to miss up to four months.[32]

Hossa’s contract negotiations became the subject of controversy in early August. On July 31, the Ottawa Sun originally reported that the NHL launched an investigation on Hossa’s long-term deal.[33] Because the contract is front-loaded and expires by the time Hossa is 42, it was speculated whether retirement before expiry of the contract was part of the Blackhawks’ negotiations. Such an agreement would be considered by the NHL to be a circumvention of the salary cap and collective bargaining agreement subject to fines or the loss of draft picks.[34]

Hossa made his debut for the Blackhawks on November 25, 2009 against the San Jose Sharks, scoring twice, including a short-handed goal in the second period of the game.[35]

International play

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Marián Hossa at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where Slovakia finished fourth.

Early in his career, Hossa represented Slovakia in two World Junior Championships, in 1997 and 1998. Also appearing in his first World Championships in 1997, tallying two points as an eighteen-year-old, Hossa has made seven appearances in the tournament throughout his career. Despite personal World Championship best 7-point performances in 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2006, Hossa has remained medal-less with Slovakia.

He made his Olympics debut at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, tallying 6 points in a limited 2 games for Slovakia. In the subsequent 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Hossa accumulated 10 points in 6 games, but Slovakia was kept from the podium. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Hossa scored the game tying goal in the 3rd period against Russia during the preliminary round.

Hossa also competed for Slovakia at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, held prior to the NHL lockout, but managed just 1 goal in 4 games.

Personal life

Hossa was born in Stara Lubovna, Czechoslovakia, to Maria Hossa, a clothing designer.[4] His younger brother by two years, Marcel Hossa, drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 2000, followed in his footsteps playing for both of Marián’s previous junior teams, HC Dukla Trenčín and the Portland Winter Hawks; while the two have played together for Mora IK of the Elitserien during the 2004–05 NHL lockout and on the Slovak national team in the World Championships and Winter Olympics. Coincidentally, they were both dealt by their NHL teams on the day of the 2007–08 trade deadline – Marián from the Atlanta Thrashers to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Marcel from the New York Rangers to the Phoenix Coyotes.[36] The younger Hossa is currently playing overseas with Riga Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

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