Marian Hossa sat at his stall, a few minutes after he put forth a great performance in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Hossa was flying that night, as he would again on Sunday against the Boston Bruins. Not bad for a guy who just turned 35 earlier this month. Not feeling that age at all, right?
“Some games I do, some games I don’t,” Hossa said with a laugh.
Thirty-five certainly isn’t old. Hossa’s 35 years, however, come with a lot of hockey — including four Stanley Cup Final appearances in his last six seasons — and several bad injuries from knees to shoulders to his back. But with the proper maintenance, a revamped routine and a few more rest days, Hossa’s playing like a guy 10 years younger.
“I don’t think 35 is that old; maybe I’m saying that because I’m 30 now. But he’s the same player, with the same speed, same skill as when he was 25,” Keith said. “It’s a credit to him, his ability and his work ethic. We all know him as a guy who’s in great shape, a great skater. He’s done that his whole career.”
Hossa is once again putting up strong performances and numbers. He scored his 20th goal of the season on Sunday and has five goals in as many games. Hossa has 42 points in 46 games, and his plus-25 rating is his best since he finished a plus-27 in 2008-09 with the Detroit Red Wings.
Teammates are still in awe of what Hossa can do.
“That’s why he’s a future hall of famer,” Kris Versteeg said. “Even if it’s a game when you don’t recognize him much, you still recognize some things he does, which all the great players do. They find a way in every game to make their presence felt. He seems to score a goal or make a great back-check or play every game. Growing up, he was one of my favorites to watch. Now getting to play with him, it’s an honor as well, seeing him up close and the God-given talent and ability he has.”
For Hossa, it’s all about gauging what he needs when he needs it.
“It all depends on how my body feels,” Hossa said. “I think at this stage of my career, I have to manage my body, especially off the ice. You have to make sure you’re smart with what you do. You have to manage the body, because there are so many games.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll continue to monitor what Hossa needs, especially coming out of the Olympics next month when Hossa will play for the Slovakian team in Sochi.
“We’ll see how they handle it, whether they’re fresh or if they need more days away than the ones we already give them,” Quenneville said of his veterans going to the Olympics. “Hossa, he’s at that stage of his career, if he doesn’t feel good or feel like practicing, sometimes we just tell him to stay away.”
Mark Twain once said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Hossa doesn’t mind tweaking a few things to keep his game productive and no matter his age, the results just keep coming.
“He doesn’t act like 35; it’s almost like he’s 25 the way he moves around the ice, his burst of speed,” Bryan Bickell said. “He’s unbelievable. That’s why he’s Marian Hossa.”