The Chicago Blackhawks lifted Marian Hossa’s number 81 to the United Center rafters. The ceremony not only served as a reminder of some glorious times in franchise history by also as a reminder that Hossa might be the greatest free-agent acquisition in Chicago sports history.
The Chicago Blackhawks needed a player to put them over the hump as they headed into the 2009-2010 season.
General manager at the time, Dale Tallon, aggressively moved to sign Marian Hossa to a 12-year deal. Three Stanley Cups later and it is safe to say, Hossa’s impact on the franchise was immense.
Marty Havlat was a solid veteran player for the 2008-2009 team but the Hawks needed a superstar pair-up with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith to win a Stanley Cup. They got that in Hossa.
Marian Hossa has been everything that the Chicago Blackhawks needed.
Jon Lester helped snap the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought. The Cubs only got one title. Any Cubs fan will tell you that you cannot minimize just one title. Lester did not play in every single game.
Andre Dawson won an MVP for the Cubs but had no postseason success. Thomas Jones helped get the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl but his team fell short of a championship.
Julius Peppers helped the Bears get to the NFC Championship game. He had some amazing feats on the field but not enough to get the Bears over the top.
DeMar DeRozan played at an MVP level for the Chicago Bulls last season but the Bulls never made it past the first round.
A.J. Pierzynski helped the Chicago White Sox snap an 88-year championship drought in the Southside. He was a bargain signing not expected to be a franchise changer. Jermaine Dye was the 2005 World Series MVP but he has two fewer championship rings than Hossa.
Three titles and nine years of greatness are what sets Hossa apart from all the other signings. The Chicago Blackhawks had a 49-year title drought until Hossa came along. The Blackhawks already had a winning infrastructure in place.
Hossa did what an impact free agent is supposed to do and that is put a team over the top. He helped accomplish that three times. Not bad for a guy who chased a cup for most of his career. He just missed hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2008 and 2009.
Also, the Chicago Blackhawks fell on hard times after his abrupt retirement in 2018. His contract created a tight salary cap situation for the Chicago Blackhawks. They also had their hands tied once they signed Toews, Keith, Kane, and Brent Seabrook to lucrative extensions.
While he never scored more than 30 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks, his style of play was impactful. He was like a freight train on the rush. His veteran presence in the early part of his Hawks tenure also helped elevate Chicago to a title.
Hossa is now among the Chicago Blackhawks immortals with his number hanging in the rafters. Too bad they could not put on the banner “Chicago’s Best Free Agent Signing of All Time.”