Hossa huge for Hawks

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Marian Hossa doesn't think about what things would be like if he had accepted an offer from the Edmonton Oilers.

Things can't get much better for the Chicago Blackhawks forward at the moment.

Hossa, 31, has made a successful comeback from off-season shoulder surgery, he's playing with one of the best teams in the league and has a very good shot at playing in his third consecutive Stanley Cup final.

Who knows where he would be had he taken the money Daryl Katz offered him two seasons ago?

The Oilers are currently the worst team in the NHL.

"I've never really thought about it; I'm happy here in Chicago with the way things are going," Hossa said.

"That's my focus right now."

Hossa turned down an offer by the Oilers, rumoured to be in the nine-year, $81-million US range, to sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.

Having lost the previous season in the Stanley Cup final to the Red Wings as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the talented winger figured his best chance of winning it all the following year was in Detroit.

In an ironic twist, the Penguins went on to beat the Red Wings in last year's final.

This past off-season, Hossa signed a 12-year, $62.8-million deal with the Blackhawks.

He sat out the first part of the year following shoulder surgery and went into Tuesday's game against the Oilers with 13 goals and 13 assists in 29 games.

"It took a little time to adjust to a new system and to get into game shape," Hossa said.

"You're working hard, but you're not playing games, so the timing is a little off at the beginning.

"But right now, I feel good.I'm getting more chemistry with my teammates and we're playing well."

Adding a player of Hossa's calibre to the Chicago lineup seems almost unfair.

The team was already loaded with the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.

Last season, the Blackhawks lost out to Hossa and the Red Wings in the Western Conference final. This year, they're hoping the addition of the Slovakian speedster takes them to the next level.

"Obviously you get excited when your team is able to sign a guy like that," said Kane.

"Not only does it take away a great player from a team like the Red Wings who are such a big rival of ours, it adds another great player to your team, allowing you to build from last year.

"I think his experience is going to help us a lot. People say things about him making it to the Cup final and not winning it, but he's a guy that's been there the last two years, so we can learn from that."

Originally the Ottawa Senators' first pick, 12th overall, in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Hossa has 745 career points in just over 800 games, which also includes a stop in Atlanta.

"He's been a real nice fit, nice addition to our team," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville.

"He adds a lot of speed and skill and plays both sides of the puck, playing the power play and penalty-killing units for us.

"He's a threat five-on-five and has definitely enhanced our skill and team speed. He's definitely a top guy."

Hossa had 15 points in 23 playoff games for the Red Wings last season.

A couple of bounces in the opposite direction in the past two years could very easily have seen him win a pair of Stanley Cup rings.

As the Blackhawks head down the stretch and into the post-season, they'll be counting on the veteran's leadership to help get to the final for the first time since 1992.

"The joke is that hopefully the third time is the charm for him," said Toews.

"Hopefully he brings that luck to us.

"He's been there a couple of times and they say you learn more after you lose.

"I think he'll know a lot about what it's like to be in a situation like that and what it takes to give a little extra to go the extra mile and win a championship."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos