It has been four long months and twenty-four days, but on Wednesday, Marian Hossa will make his long-awaited debut for your Chicago Blackhawks. There has been a lot of growing excitement about what this team will look like once Hossa is here for good.
What are the lines going to be? How good are the Hawks going to be now? How quickly will Hossa acclimate himself to the team?
These are just some of the questions being asked on a daily basis. They are all legitimate questions and by Wednesday, we should start to get a better answer on all of them.
However, there are a few rules that need to be laid down before all this hoopla reaches a frenzied pitch.
- Marian Hossa did not participate in the pre-season; this is his pre-season. Therefore, it will probably take more than a couple games for him to get his sea legs back. Even if he plays out of his Slovakian mind on Wednesday, he’s probably going to look a little sluggish for the first couple weeks. No need to panic if things don’t start off exactly as you planned. The Hawks didn’t sign Sergei Berezin to a 12-year deal.
- Marian Hossa’s presence will NOT affect the team’s precious chemistry. I have a feeling this will become a huge outcry. With the Hawks in the midst of a 7-game winning streak and everything seeming to go their way, it’s only a matter of time before they lose a couple games in a row. Naturally, Hossa will probably end up catching the brunt of the blame from ill-informed meatballs. If the Hawks end up dropping a couple games upon Hossa’s return, it’s not because he doesn’t enjoy reveling in the Blackhawks post-game shenanigans like snapping towels at Patrick Kane in the shower; it’s simply the law of averages.
- It won’t always be Marian Hossa’s fault. Thanks to his sub-par showing in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, Hossa has become a popular target for fans to blame all their team’s short-comings on. Just like Jay Cutler, Hossa will have an enormous bullseye on his back. Even when he’s not to blame, people will still search for reasons why it will be his fault. Please don’t fall into this trap.
- The Hawks will not automatically win the Western Conference simply because of Hossa. It’s going to be very easy for some to simply point to Hossa’s return, the current state of the Hawks, and say, “This is it. They’re going all the way now.” While it certainly puts them among the front-runners of the conference, there is way too much season left to proclaim the Hawks are, for certain, guaranteed to win the conference.
–In other Hawk news, the Toronto media is all over the latest rumor of ’Brent Sopel and a draft pick to the Maple Leafs.’ If the Hawks are going to unload any player currently on their roster to clear cap space for the announcement of the Big Three, it will be Sopel. They can’t trade Versteeg or Barker in a mid-season salary dump without seriously affecting their current chances.
While Sopel has performed more than admirably this season, people aren’t going to pine for his services if he is shipped away. Nor will the Hawks particularly miss him. Unless, of course, they become riddled with injuries and there’s not much you can do about that anyways.
–This is usually Bobby’s territory but the Florida Panthers debuted their new third jersey on Monday night. While I am a sucker for any combination of blue, I’m completely befuddled why the Panthers would choose that color scheme for their third jersey.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s usually not customary for a team to completely re-invent their colors when drafting third digs.
That being said (h/t to Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld), I love the traditional style of the jersey. I love the pants and socks. And I know Bobby loves that there is no vertical piping or whatever he calls it.