What curse? Hossa makes Blackhawks serious contenders
Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
When Chicago signed Marian Hossa over the summer, the joke was that the move made the Blackhawks odds-on favorites to finish as the runner-up for the Stanley Cup in 2010.
You see, Hossa, despite being a prolific scorer, has never won a Stanley Cup title and was on the losing team in each of the past two championship rounds.
He was traded from Atlanta to Pittsburgh during the 2007-08 campaign and watched as Detroit ousted the Penguins a few months later. Hossa then jumped ship a few weeks after Pittsburgh lost to Detroit by inking a one-year deal with the Red Wings. Predictably, when the Wings lost in seven games to Pittsburgh last spring the rumors that Hossa carried some sort of curse with him began.
Luckily for Blackhawks fans, their club didn't bother listening to that talk and made a daring move by adding Hossa to a team already stacked with budding talent.
Perhaps Hossa saw Chicago's potential while his Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks in last year's Western Conference finals. The Slovakian winger was barely wrong about Detroit giving him the best shot at a Cup last year, and if the early part of this season is any indication, Chicago has an excellent chance at winning it all this year.
Marian Hossa scored two goals in his debut with Chicago.
Hossa signed a mammoth 12-year, $62.8 million contract with Chicago on the first day of free agency, but just a few weeks later he underwent shoulder surgery and wound up missing almost the first two months of the season. But the Blackhawks showed how good they were even without their new offensive weapon, as they began 15-5-2 without Hossa in the lineup.
Chicago's prized signing finally took the ice with his new team earlier this week and he made a big splash, scoring two goals in his debut to help lead the Hawks to a 7-2 road win in San Jose. It was the eighth consecutive win for Chicago and the victory served as a statement against the Sharks, who are the only club ahead of the Blackhawks in the Western Conference standings.
Hossa jumped in as the right winger on the top line and made an immediate impact alongside centerman Jonathan Toews and fellow winger Patrick Kane. The trio created tons of offensive opportunities for each other and the unit appears to have the makings of one of the top lines in the entire league. After all, Hossa is coming off a 40-goal season with Detroit and has been a consistent scorer his entire career, posting 721 points in 776 games.
Kane and Toews, who are both just 21 years of age, will be the biggest benefactors of Hossa's arrival. The young duo has already led the team to a berth in the conference finals and the fact that they'll only get better with age is scary for the rest of the NHL. With Hossa added to the equation, there is no telling how far Kane and Toews, and therefore the Blackhawks, can go.
Still, the young Blackhawks have some things to prove before being crowned as the Pittsburgh Penguins of the West. The biggest concern is in net, where Cristobal Huet has played well this season but is still considered to be somewhat of an unknown quantity, especially in the playoffs where he has a lifetime 6-10 record.
Aiding Huet in his task is an ever-improving defensive corps that is led by veteran Brian Campbell and powered by young talent like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, who are 26 and 24 years old, respectively.
With a great deal of talent already at their disposal, the Blackhawks could've played it safe by not signing Hossa to such a huge contract. The club still would have been a contender in the race for the title this year, but the addition of such a high-powered offensive weapon could result in not just one, but perhaps a few Cups.
It's been nearly a half-century since Chicago last lifted Lord Stanley's Cup in the spring of 1961. The signing of Hossa ensures that the Blackhawks are here to stay as a perennial contender, but there is still no guarantee that his arrival will end Chicago's Cup drought.
Just don't believe that something as silly as a curse will stop Hossa and the Blackhawks in their quest.