The end appears to be here for Hossa

It appears to be all over for Marian Hossa.

The Blackhawks forward, who sat out last season due to a progressive skin disorder, told a newspaper in Slovakia that he is finished playing hockey.

Here’s what the 39-year-old had to say: “I’m done playing hockey. I have a contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have to watch my health, and my body says the comeback is not possible.”

Hossa, who’s contract with Chicago runs through 2020-21, said he hasn’t put on hockey equipment since the last time he played an NHL game, which was Game 4 of the Blackhawks Western Conference First Round series against the Predators in April 2017, in which Chicago was swept out of the playoffs.

If it is the end – which it almost certainly seems to be – it marks the conclusion of one of the great NHL careers, one worthy of enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. In 1,309 career games, Hossa has put up 1,134 points and 525 goals while putting up 149 more points in 205 playoff games. He played for all three Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks teams this decade and was a member of runner-up squads in the 2008 Penguins and 2009 Red Wings.

Hossa is also one of the faces of what was a great crop of Slovakian talent that came into the league in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a group that was also headlined by Zdeno Chara and Marian Gaborik. Guys who captained teams, helped win Stanley Cups, guys who did really good things for hockey.

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Three Stars of the Midweek: Marian Hossa Latest in 500-goal club

NHL

Marian Hossa: Hossa scored his 500th career goal on Tuesday night, a 7-4 win over Philadelphia. He’s the 43rd player in NHL history to reach that mark, but just the third among players that made their debut after the 1994-95 lockout. The other two? Jarome Iginla and Alex Ovechkin.

Mike Green: Goal scoring has never been a weakness for the defenseman, his 123 goals ranking sixth among blue liners going back to the start of the 2005-06 season. He’s the only defenseman to score 30 goals over that span, scoring 31 in the 2008-09 season. On Monday night, he added the hat trick to the list of accomplishments, scoring three goals in a game for the first time in his career.

Patrik Laine: Facing Auston Matthews for the first time, the young Jets sniper registered his first career hat trick as well.

AHL

Anthony Mantha, Grand Rapids: The Red Wings top prospect found the net three time in a 4-3 win over the Iowa Wild on Tuesday night. He now has five goals in three games this season, his third for the Griffins. He played 10 games for the Wings last season. Expect him to be in Detroit at some point this season.

Mark Jankowski, Stockton: The former first round pick and Providence College standout had a goal and three points in a 5-1 win over the Texas Stars on Wednesday.

Nick Ellis, Bakersfield: Another strong showing for a former Providence Friar. The Condors netminder made 30 saves on 31 shots in a 4-1 win over Manitoba on Tuesday night.

CHL

Taylor Raddysh, Erie: The Lightning prospect had two and four points in the Otters 6-5 win over Niagara on Wednesday. He has 21 points in eight games.

Dmitri Sokolov, Sudbury: The Minnesota Wild prospect registered his second hat trick in four games in the Wolves’ win over the Soo Greyhounds on Wednesday. He has eight goals in his last five games.

Reilly Pickard, Acadie-Bathurst: Made 37 saves in a 3-1 win for the Titan over Saint John, who outshot A-B, 38-28.

Thoughts Are Mine Only: Alex Radulov Breaks Four-Year Scoring Drought

These thoughts are my own only. Just in case you were wondering.

The title is self explanatory. Just meaningless thoughts you probably could care less about, plus some links, stats, observations, and whatever else gets thrown in there. It’ll be worth your while. Or maybe it won’t be. Only way you know is if you check it out.

*First career goal by Matthew Tkachuk, the sixth overall pick in this past June’s draft by the Flames. The son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, he’ll be 19 in December. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

*The throwback Pittsburgh white sweaters combined with the classic red trademark sweaters for Montreal. Pure jersey porn at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.

*Montoya’s save percentage through three games: .962.

*Alexander Radulov’s 48th goal in the NHL came on Tuesday. It came 1,654 days after No. 47. The gap between No. 44 and 45 was 1,462 games.

*Huge loss for the Coyotes if Mike Smith is out for extended time. He hasn’t been a world beater by any stretch since his 2011-12 campaign that ended with a Western Conference final appearance, almost winning a Vezina Trophy. A shoddy defensive team but one that dazzles with the puck, Arizona needs a 2012-like Smith in order to fulfill expectations some hold of them being a ‘surprise team’; not unlike how Seymon Varlomov was for Colorado in 2013-14, or Price for the Canadiens in 2014-15.

*Taylor Hall was the best player on the ice for the Devils on Tuesday night, their first win of the season.

*Marian Hossa got his 500th goal in Chicago’s win over Philadelphia. He’s got five years left on his deal, so there should be plenty more.

*Another great hockey information website gone too soon. General Fanager has shut down, as website founder Tom Poraszka was hired by the expansion Las Vegas franchise.

*Non-hockey thought: As soon as the Cubs seem like they’re ahead, they fall behind. Dodgers won, 6-0, to go ahead 2-0 on Tuesday. Still say they win the Pennant, but there’s that small part of me that says they screw it up.

Links

Remember that time there was massive college hockey power in Maine? Of course you do. Well, they might just be back.

You get confused by the way supplemental discipline is handed out in the NHL? No need to worry, Matt Larkin of The Hockey News has you covered.

The talk out there is that hockey is becoming a young man’s game.

Finally gave a listen to Bob McKenzie’s new podcast, aptly name the ‘Bobcast’. It’s good. Even throws in some life tips towards the end.

Blackhawks Could Be Putting New Faith in Panarin to Move Alongside Toews

The top nine is the new top six. At least for now.

It’s been a common strategy in the NHL for coaches to spread out what would be top-six forwards in recent seasons across three lines. It will almost certainly kick up this season after Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan moved top-line sniper Phil Kessel to the the third line last season en route to the Penguins run to the Stanley Cup. Kessel nearly won the Conn Smythe Trophy after being the headliner of the HBK line, skating alongside Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino.

Could Joel Quenneville be the latest to jump on the bandwagon?

Bob McKenzie is reporting that Joel Quenneville plans to spread the best of his forward group across the first, second, and third lines. A coach not known to be afraid of juggling lines and testing out new combinations, he’s willing to go as far as breaking up the left wing/right wing combo of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, which was among the league’s most potent offensive combo a year ago. Meanwhile, first line mainstay Marian Hossa is expected to be moved to the third line to skate alongside Marcus Kruger.

So to summarize: Kane will remain to the right of Artem Anisimov – as he was for a team-high 671 faceoffs last season, according to puckbase.com – while Panarin will move up to skate alongside Toews as Hossa moves to the third line.

Of course, this could mean multiple things.

The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line that carried the offense much of the year, combining for more than 35 percent of the Hawks points with a combined 225 points. Outside that threesome, there was little continuity across the Chicago lineup. With Quenneville constantly juggling the three other lines, the Blackhawks finished the year tied 20th with Edmonton in five-on-five scoring. The Hawks had never finished lower than 14th going back to 2008-09, Quenneville’s first season in Chicago. This could just be the latest development in the search for that right combination, figuring breaking up last season’s top line could best the best for the four lines as a whole.

But here’s what this could be above all – Quenneville believing Panarin is the option on the wing Toews missed last season and Hossa, who turns 38 in January, someone just not getting the job done and suited best for a third-line role.

And the numbers back it up.

Panarin’s 77 points in 2015-16 was the 12th-highest by a rookie in NHL history, the most for a rookie since 2006-07, when Evgeni Malkin and Paul Stastny recorded 85 and 78, respectively. Patrick Kane, of course had the best year of his career. Of his 46 goals – which surpassed his previous career-high by 16 – 22 of those goals were assisted by Panarin. Twenty-three of Kane’s 60 assists, also a career-high, were Panarin goals. Of course, that could be turned around as Kane assisted on 23 of Panarin’s 30 goals.

Hossa had just 33 points in 64 games last season skating mostly alongside Toews, his worst offensive output in an 82-game season since 1998-99, his first full NHL season, where he notched just 30 points in 60 games. His 0.71 points-per-game over the last three seasons are down from the mark on 0.89 he posted through his first four years in Chicago.

As McKenzie noted, Hossa skating alongside Kruger could create a ‘high-end, two-way checking line’, adding an extra dimension to the bottom six against inferior competition.

We’ll see what it brings.