It used to infuriate me during Marian Hossa's first two years here that some people had turned on him, thought he was overrated, ignored his injury problems, and thought he would never amount to anything. Before this season, I found myself getting closer and closer to that threshold where I wondered what the Hawks might get out of Hoss at this stage of his career. So I can't tell you how delighted I was that Hawks fans finally got to see the unholy, dominating, foot-in-your-ass monster that Hossa is and can be. The problem is that it very well be that monster could be gone forever, or a very long time, thanks to a complete detriment to the league dunderhead.
Marian Hossa's Stats: 81G 29G 48A 77P +18 20PIM 0.93 Behind The Net, 0.029 QofC, 7.49 CORSI
The Good: Let's put it this way: how many players outscored Hossa in the West? Henrik Sedin. And that's it. So that tells you the level of dominance that Hossa displayed for a majority of the season. No coincidence that it came with that first number up there, which is the 81 games (and what makes next season and the ones beyond so terrifying). Most nights, Hossa was so far and away the best player on the ice it bordered on comedy. We reveled in those shifts that we dubbed "I'm Marian Hossa and you're not". Who remembers his shorty in St. Louis that began a true paddling down there, where be basically just decided he was going to score? He came up with big goals and big plays as well. He aided Patrick Kane when he had to shift to center, and made Andrew Brunette somewhat useful. In fact, anyone who played with Hossa got better, which included Sharp and Stalberg and Toews and anyone else. Even Bolland and he found some chemistry when they had to play together. Oh, and he had 9 power play goals, and I didn't think the Hawks scored nine power play goals all year.
The Bad: Let's ignore the injury for now, as that's not his fault and not something we need to dwell on. Toward the end of the season, there were games where Hossa's legs did look heavy. The usual defensive effort we've become accustomed to wasn't there, on some nights. He took some shortcuts. He wasn't effective at the offensive end. Though generally, the game after the one where he looked fatigued he generally tore several new orifices onto the opponent. So it's nitpicking a bit. Some will say that before he had to head to the darkness, he hadn't done much in Games 1 and 2, and that's true. But two games doesn't seem enough of a sample size to get to upset about that. And I still would have liked him to be on the ice when the Hawks began to assert themselves later in that series.
Contract: Signed forever at hit of 5.2M
Stick Around Or Hit The Bricks: It's not a question of moving Hossa, because even if the Hawks wanted to his health would prevent that. But Stan is in an almost impossible position here. Because when the Final ends and moves can be made before the draft and on July 1, he isn't going to have any idea on when Hossa will be healthy. We all can say training camp is far enough away, but no one knows. And by the time Hossa tries to start training again, the Hawks will have had to make moves. So they can't plan on having Hossa's cap space available via either LTIR or a surprise retirement. It complicates things. Honestly, I would be more surprised if I see Hossa at training camp than I will be if it is decided that he's going to miss the year. Hossa's injury looks to me in the Savard, Bergeron, Booth category, and that means a serious absence. If he plays, I'm thinking January. When and if he does come back, we have no idea what we'll get. Can he return to the form we saw this past season after an extended absence? Will there be any tentativeness? Can he be as physically imposing without fear of re-injury? How big a of a breeze will it take to send him to the shelf again?
The biggest problem is that there are no answers to any of those questions, and certainly not in time to recalibrate how the Hawks should be built this season. And maybe the biggest shame is that it was a true pleasure to watch Hossa take on teams by himself this year and win, and we may never get it again.