By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The sport of hockey, a beautiful, constant adrenaline rush, is a young man’s game.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Rounding Out The Warmest Weekend Of The Winter
Baby-faced talents like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine have followed the footing of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin as the next game’s bright stars, as the teenagers ready to take over the hockey world.
Then there’s Marian Hossa, the 37-year-old who defies age with each season. With his two goals in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 win over the Coyotes on Tuesday at the United Center, he now ranks fifth in hockey with 14 tallies. Hossa is three goals off the league-leading Crosby and Laine, and he’s now topped the anomaly of a 13-goal 2015-’16 campaign.
Of course, Hossa himself is an anomaly. He’s more than twice Laine’s 18 years of age, set to turn 38 in January. In fact, Hossa made his NHL debut seven months before Laine was even born.
Hossa is what these young players should strive to be.
“He’s a great pro,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his elder statesman. “He’s in tremendous shape. He looks after himself and he prepares game in and game out. He’s a great mentor or great student of the game for guys who come in, young guys to watch him how he plays, prepares and the consistency he gives us. This year, he’s not only doing that, he’s scoring big goals.”
How Hossa maintains himself is nothing new by now. Chicago has watched him thrive as the years and miles add up. Nothing ever seems to change.
Quenneville equated Hossa’s down 2015-’16 season to bad puck luck. He sees the same player who arrived to his team in 2009. Hossa scored 24 goals that season, then at the age of 30. He’s on pace for 40 this time around.
“This year, I feel a lot more recharged,” Hossa said. “When the puck is going in, I feel a lot more confident.
“I just need to keep doing it.”
With his two goals Tuesday, Hossa tied the legendary Jeremy Roenick for 38th on the game’s all-time goals list. Who knows how many more years Hossa can play and how high he can rise up that list. His 12-year contract inked in 2009 runs through 2021, when he will reach 42 years of age. He sure isn’t slowing down.
Hossa’s work ethic is impressive, something widely touted by teammates. It has allowed him longevity in this league. He looks like a cross between a linebacker and cyborg suited in that famed red sweater.READ MORE: MISSING: Khoshaba Dikyanos, 84, Last Seen In Lincoln Square
“He’s an impressive human being,” goaltender Scott Darling said.
Following an early exit from the postseason last season, a rarity for these Blackhawks, Hossa got his body right. Then he came out for the World Cup of Hockey and looked like his old self.
Quenneville recognized then what Hossa had in store for this 2016-’17 season. Hossa has taken it all in stride. True to form, he refused to get too excited about his play.
“You want to keep playing at the same level where you feel good about your game,” he said. “When you don’t, it’s going to be tough to play.”
What Hossa won’t admire of himself, the rest of hockey will. In goal scoring, he trails Wayne Simmons, 28, and David Pastrnak, 20, by just one, and leads Vladimir Tarasenko, 24, Nikita Kucherov, 23, and Mark Scheifele, 23, by a tally.
Hockey continues to produce these tremendous young talents, and Hossa continues to make age just a number. He defies the realities that are supposed to catch up with NHL forwards. Wear and tear never seems to slow him down.
Even 19 years into his career, Hossa is still at the top of his game.
“He’s been a scorer most of his life,” Quenneville said.
These young Blackhawks are tied with the Canadians for the league’s top record, and they’re best in the West with their 37 points on the season. Despite injuries to Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford and now Brent Seabrook — who left Tuesday in the second period with an upper-body injury — the Blackhawks and their young roster have excelled.
In working around the cap crunch again, Quenneville, the Blackhawks’ veteran bench boss, has been tasked with putting young, unproven players in position to be successful. He’s been able to count on Hossa, who keeps scoring big goals like he has for 19 NHL seasons.
Hossa is still defying age while staying at the top of this young man’s game.MORE NEWS: Chicago Speed Cameras To Start Issuing $35 Tickets To Drivers Going 6 MPH Over The Limit On Monday