“I’m done playing hockey.” Those were the words uttered by longtime hockey great Marian Hossa this morning. The current member of the Chicago Blackhawks was forced to sit out last season due to a progressive skin condition made worse from the equipment he was wearing. Truth be told, it was expected that Hossa would not play again, but to hear the words is truly saddening.
Hossa spoke to a Slovak newspaper, and said that even though he has a contract with Chicago for the next three years “… I have to watch my health, and my body says the comeback is not possible.” This issue began several years ago, but Hossa managed to play on thanks to the medical staff of the Blackhawks.
Unfortunately, it became worse and worse. Yes, Hossa has to do what is best for himself and his family. However, this is NOT the way that the winger should have ended his career. A three-time Stanley Cup champion, all with Chicago, Hossa was truly one of the greatest hockey players in the NHL.
What makes this worse is the fact that Hossa isn’t going to get what the best of the best deserve; a final game in which the crowd cheers and applauds him for what seems like forever. His teammates tapping their sticks as he skates around the ice he has seen for countless years. The final skate is something that all great hockey players deserve.
What the Blackhawks need to do, and there is a good chance they will do this, is bring back Hossa as part of their “One Last Shift” program. It was a chance for the team to honor the legends that have played for Chicago by allowing them to be out on the ice for the National Anthem, standing alongside the starting lineups. It’s safe to say that Hossa will eventually be a part of this.
As for now, all fans most likely have a favorite memory of Hossa. Mine can be boiled down to two memories, all in the same month. As a spur of the moment purchase, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to the Blackhawks game on Oct.19, 2016 vs. the Philadelphia Flyers. I happily agreed, not knowing the utter history I was going to see.
Blackhawks fans should remember that game, not because they won the game, or the fact that their devastating line of Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov lit up the Flyers like nothing else. No, it was because Hossa became the 44th player in NHL history to score 500 goals. I witnessed him shove the puck underneath the Flyers goalie and in the back of the net, listened to the utter roar of the United Center, and saw his teammates literally slam into Hossa as they realized what happened.
It was a celebration that was well deserved, and it ties directly into my next memory. I went to the Blackhawks game against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 30, 2016, not knowing that the team was going to honor Hossa for his historic achievement. During the pregame celebration, the camera was on Hossa and his daughter, when she decided to honk his nose as he played along. It was honestly one of the cutest moments, and I was there to witness it.
He might not get the final skate around the ice at the end of the season that Hossa deserves, but he will be honored. An essential lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame, all that is left is to see Hossa receive all the honors that are bestowed.
Thank you, Marian Hossa.