Marian Hossa is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and accomplished everything he needed to before walking away from the game.
He was the 80th player in NHL history to hit the 1,000-point mark. He ranks 35th all-time in goals (525) and 30th in playoff points (149). He also won three Stanley Cups.
And yet, it still feels like Hossa’s career ended prematurely despite turning in 19 quality seasons. That’s because it did.
Following the 2016-17 campaign, Hossa announced he would no longer play hockey due to a progressive skin condition stemming from the side effects associated with the respective medications. He had four years left on his contract with the Blackhawks and fully intended on playing it through.
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One day after being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hossa reflected on how things ended and admitted he still believes he could’ve played at a high level into age 40.
"Let's put it this way: I knew I still had a few years left if I didn't have a skin condition," Hossa said Thursday on a video conference call. “I definitely would have liked to play a few more years. I was leaving the game when I was still in really good shape. I was able to skate with the young guys, I scored 26 goals my last year, so I still felt good and had lots of energy left. But you don't want to gamble with things like those pills, so I effectively stayed safe.”
The Blackhawks haven’t been the same without Hossa, who’s still under contract with the Arizona Coyotes but was ruled eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame because he hasn’t played in three seasons. He played the game the right way, carried himself as a true professional and was the perfect example for a young player to look up to.
The Blackhawks certainly miss his presence both on and off the ice, but they couldn’t have asked for more out of Hossa in the eight seasons he did suit up for them. Hossa said signing with the Blackhawks was “the best decision in my career" and that he had the "best memories" in Chicago.
There's no doubt Hossa would love to still be playing, but not at the expense of his health. So now he’s part of hockey history in more ways than one.
"On one hand, it's pretty cool when they told me I'm only the second player in history who's going to the Hall of Fame under contract," said Hossa, who revealed the first was Chris Pronger. "It doesn't happen often, but in this case it did, and I'm grateful they picked me. It's amazing to be part of it."