Marian Hossa has accomplished a heck of a lot over the course of his career. The 37-year-old has played 1,200-plus games, accumulated 1,000-plus points, is one goal shy of 500 and has three Stanley Cups to his name. But Hossa could be eyeing up another feat, one that few imagined he would have stuck around to see.
When Hossa signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10, it was during the height of the long-term, front-loaded contract craze, one which saw teams hand out big money in the first few years of a deal only to watch the salary drop precipitously as the life of the contract wore on. Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3-million deal was one of the more bizarre deals, and the common belief that was once the 2017-18 season rolled around — or, better put, once Hossa’s salary dropped to $1 million — he would have retired and sailed off into the sunset.
Not so fast, though.
Playing out the remainder of his contract would see a 42-year-old Hossa suiting up for the Blackhawks, and when asked about the possibility, the already-veteran winger said that if his body is still feeling good there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be able to continue to contribute in Chicago into his early 40s. And Hossa staying with the Blackhawks is important to the team, too, as it helps them avoid having to deal with a cap recapture penalty upon Hossa’s retirement.
"I go year-by-year right now and I try to not focus on five years," Hossa said, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc. "At this point you never know what can happen. You know, too many injuries or these things can slow you down. Or anything can change. But right now I feel pretty good so I try to go for it.”
Hossa added that his goal is to “play to where I can play my level and if not, go from there,” according to Kuc. That level may be changing, though.
This past season, Hossa had the least offensive output of any campaign in his career, barring his rookie season. In 64 games, Hossa mustered just 13 goals and 33 points, which marked a nearly 30-point drop from the year prior. But even if Hossa’s production may be slipping in terms of goals and points, he’s still a solid, playmaking two-way winger, and one of the very best at what he does in the entire league.
In the three years prior to last season, Hossa finished top 10 in Selke Trophy voting, and it’s a near certainty that were he a center and not a winger, he would be a perennial top-five finisher for the award. He’s that skilled defensively, and that’s the reason why he has become one of coach Joel Quenneville’s most heavily relied upon players.
Hossa’s role could very well change this coming season, though. After averaging 18-plus minutes per game between 2012-13 and 2014-15, Hossa’s ice time dipped to 17:16 per game in 2015-16. As the new season approaches, there’s some speculation he could be used more sparingly, too, maybe as a middle-six forward instead of a top line winger.
He’ll also be earning less this season, too, as his salary will take its first of two drops. This season, he’ll earn $4 million, down from the $7.9 million he had made in the first seven seasons of the contract.
Only Hossa can really know what his salary, as well as his role, does for his desire to stick around in Chicago, but it sounds like he’s content with the Blackhawks and ready to give playing into his 40s a serious shot.
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