CHICAGO — A couple of weeks ago, I took some heat for writing that Marian Hossa’s age would be a challenge for the Blackhawks in the coming years.
In reality, I meant it as a compliment. Hossa is 36. He can’t play forever, because nobody can. It’s the same argument I’ve made when it comes to Zdeno Chara in Boston.
Some players are so important to their teams that when they get to a certain age, it’s only natural (for me at least) to question how much longer they’ve got as elite players.
Well, last night, Hossa showed that he’s still capable of an elite performance. Even if he did miss an open net, the oldest forward on his team played the most of any forward (23:56). He also finished with two assists, including a perfect pass to set up Brandon Saad on a one-timer for the Blackhawks’ second goal.
So, given how he played, and given what I’d written, I asked coach Joel Quenneville today if he thought Hossa could be the next Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne, the rare forward that can play at a high level into his late 30s, or even into his 40s.
“He could be,” said Quenneville. “He loves the game. He does a nice job of taking care of himself, preparing so he can go into games and be great, do the best he can each and every night.
“He had the puck a lot last night. Had an outstanding chance early. Stayed with it. I thought that line was dangerous at times. He was very effective last night.”
For the record, I stand by my argument. Hossa proved last night that he remains a very good player. However, he also remains human. Among active players, only Jagr (202) has appeared in more playoff games than he has (191).
Hossa fans should take it as a compliment when people wonder how long he’s got left as a great player. It means his importance has been appreciated.