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‘Who Wore It Best?’: Blackhawks legend Marian Hossa named best No. 81 in NHL history

Hossa got the nod over Phil Kessel despite wearing No. 18 for his first 10 seasons.

Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Two Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Marian Hossa only wore No. 81 for nine seasons during his 19-year NHL career, but his strong play was enough to be voted the best to ever wear the number by an panel.

The right wing wore No. 18 with the Senators (1997-2004), Thrashers (2005-07) and Penguins (2007-08) before switching to No. 81 with the Red Wings (2008-09) because Kirk Maltby had No. 18. Hossa kept No. 81 when he signed with the Blackhawks because Chicago retired No. 18 in honor of Denis Savard in March 1998.

After losing in the Stanley Cup Final the previous two years, Hossa played a key role in the Blackhawks winning the Cup three times (2010, 2013, 2015) before his career ended due to a progressive skin disorder prior to the 2017-18 season.

“This is a guy who is a really elegant player, and I like how he chased it,” former NHL executive and current Sportsnet analyst Brian Burke said. “He tried to win. He went to teams that he thought had a chance to win, and he played in the Final three straight years, winning the Cup in 2010 with Chicago in the third of the those three.”

Hossa’s 51 voting points beat out two-time Cup champion Phil Kessel’s 42 as the best No. 81 across 19 voters. First-place votes were worth three points, second-place votes worth two points and third-place votes worth one point.

Hossa received 13 first-place votes and six second-place votes. Kessel, who has worn No. 81 for his entire 14-year career with the Bruins (2006-09), Maple Leafs (2009-15), Penguins (2015-19) and Coyotes (2019 to present), had five first-place votes, 13 second-place votes and one third-place vote. Miroslav Stan, a 2009 Cup winner with the Penguins, had one first-place vote.