Marian Hossa had his best season in a Chicago Blackhawks sweater during the 2011-12 season. Hossa was arguably the team MVP but that won't prevent another summer of doubts about his future performance.
In the blink of an eye, Raffi Torres threw Hossa's future into question.
Before Game Three of Chicago's playoff series with Phoenix, it would be easy to call the regular season a statement that Hossa could still be the player Chicago was hoping to get when he was signed in the summer of 2009. Through no fault of his own, Hossa is once again in a position to prove himself.
Injuries prevented Hossa from playing a full season in both of his first two seasons in Chicago. Heading into camp last fall, I pronounced it unlikely that Hossa could give the 'Hawks 82 games. After all, he hadn't played in every game since the 2006-07 campaign.
I felt that if Hossa could be on the ice for at least 73 games he could have a productive season, maybe even topping the 80-point mark. The old man only managed to come up a game short of a full season of action and just three points short of my best-case prediction.
With 29 goals and 48 assists, Hossa was 12th in the NHL in scoring. His 77 points led the team and trailed only Henrik Sedin in the Western Conference. He was selected to his fifth All-Star Game.
Hossa was centered by Patrick Kane for part of the season. Hossa was a big part of making that experiment work. He managed to make Daniel Carcillo and Andrew Brunette look good on his line. In fact, Hossa made most of his line mates better most of the way.
Hossa led the team in power play goals (nine) and chipped in a pair of shorthanded goals. Up until Torres ended his season, I would most definitely say that the 'Hawks got the Marian Hossa we had only seen glimpses of since donning the Indian head sweater.
Then came that devastating hit in the neutral zone that left Hossa motionless on the ice and out of commission for the remainder of the Phoenix series. One hit and we're left wondering if we can expect to get another dominant season from the 33-year-old Hossa.
At this point, we know very little about Hossa's progress from what was certainly a concussion, among other things. Presumably Hossa is home in Slovakia continuing his recovery. GM Stan Bowman has said that he expects Hossa to be ready for the start of training camp, but there are no guarantees.
It's hard to think that we are in for many answers until late in the summer as to Hossa's status for next season. Like the past two summers, we are left to wonder if Hossa will be healthy enough to log another solid year.
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