There’s only one Marian Hossa.
The man with the long stride, long reach, long stick and commanding dressing room presence will play his 1,000th career game Sunday, fittingly in Detroit against the Red Wings.
Detroit’s loss was the Blackhawks’ gain in the summer of 2009 when they signed Hossa to a 12-year, $63.3 million contract as a free agent.
So far Hossa has been everything the Hawks hoped he would be and then some. He has already helped them win one Stanley Cup and they are the early favorite again this season thanks to a 21-game point streak to start the year that has yet to see the team lose in regulation.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Overall, offensive, defensively, positionally, he’s exactly how you want our team to play because he does it and plays it to a T.
“He reinforces that team aspect game in and game out and he plays it at a high pace. He has the puck a lot too. He sees plays, makes plays and plays in all situations. He’s exactly what you would want in a top player.”
Hossa spent just one season with the Red Wings in 2008-09, scoring 40 goals. But the Wings had to make a financial decision between Hossa and Johan Franzen and opted to re-sign Franzen.
The Hawks quickly signed Hossa on July 1, 2009, the first day he was on the market.
“First of all, it’s an honor to reach that milestone in the best league in the world,” Hossa said of playing in 1,000 games. “And playing with so many different great players definitely means something to me.”
Winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 is at the top of Hossa’s list of accomplishments.
“The Cup is No. 1 thing,” he said. “That’s why you play this game, to win the trophy one day. Definitely that’s the number one thing in my mind. I’d like to do it again here.
“Those 1,000 games I accomplished, just playing on lots of great teams with lots of great players and lots of good memories. When I started as an 18-year-old in Ottawa, basically I never thought about maybe one day I could reach 1,000 games. I just try to go season by season and be a better and better player.”
Hossa scored one of the biggest goals in the Hawks’ Stanley Cup run on April 24, 2010 in overtime in Game 5 of the opening round series with Nashville. Hossa was serving a five-minute major for boarding Dan Hamhuis when Patrick Kane scored short-handed in the waning seconds of regulation. Then after the Hawks killed the major penalty, Hossa came out of the penalty box to get the game-winner at 4:07 of OT.
The 34-year-old Hossa will become the 13th player to reach 1,000 games in a Hawks uniform joining Chris Chelios, Eric Nesterenko, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Doug Mohns, Sylvain Cote, Brent Sutter, Michel Goulet, Eddie Olczyk, Bob Murray, Dave Christian and John Tonelli.
“It’s a huge milestone,” Hossa said. “I’m just glad to be one of those players who’ve reached it.”
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