On June 21, 2017 I learned that my favorite NHL player of all time, Marian Hossa, would miss the next season due to a progressive skin disease. This could also mark the end of his career.
Hossa has played in 19 NHL seasons, and has won three Stanley Cubs with the Chicago Blackhawks. I cheered when he scored. I felt sick when he was removed from the ice on a stretcher after a brutal hit. Why do I like Hossa so much? For a lot of reasons. I’m in the beginning of my sled hockey career, but in my two seasons I’ve applied much that I learned from watching #81.
You’re never too old to compete.
As of this writing, Hossa is 38 years old, which is old for an NHL player. You could excuse him for trailing off. But in the 2016-17 season, he had 26 goals and 19 assists, which was third on the team. That’s good for any player, of any age. He’s had slow years, which prompted people to speculate that he’s at the end of his productive years, but he’s always bounced back. If it weren’t for this medical condition, he’d planned on returning next season.
As of now, I am 45 years old. I’m not competing at the NHL level. But it’s encouraging to know that an athlete who’s nearly my age can still compete at the highest level in his sport, and can keep up with other players half his age.
Train hard, and train for strength.
Hossa has been described as a “Greek god” when it comes to fitness. At 6’1″ and 210 lb he’s big and he’s strong as bull. He maintains his fitness by serious off-ice training, and the benefits show on the ice. Some of my favorite plays involve him holding off one (or even two) players with his left arm, controlling the puck with a stick in his right hand, and driving toward the net. That’s not something every player can do, and it requires a lot of strength. That strength also shows itself in his speed. At 38, he’s still one of the fastest Blackhawks.
I’ve been strength training for years, and I’ve kept it up throughout the season. I find that training to provide a real advantage on the ice in many ways.
Be good at all aspects of the game, and play where they put you.
Hossa is known as an end-to-end player. He plays at even strength, on the power play, and on the penalty kill. While he’s not the most prolific scorer, he’s spent a lot of time on the top line next to Toews due to his all around play. In 2016-17, Hossa spent time on the third line for some of the season. He never complained, and stated that he’s happy to play and would contribute in any way they needed him.
I’m often put into similar situations on the ice. I’ve had to keep my ego in check as I was moved from forward to defense. But I always try to keep in mind that my purpose is to help my team win.
Be a class act.
Hossa will also be missed in the locker room. He’s highly regarded as a great teammate and all around good guy. Despite a serious injury to his back and a major concussion, he kept going and didn’t give up. He’ll be remembered for that great attitude as much as his great play.
Good luck, Big Hoss. You will be missed.