In a Chicago Tribune article, released yesterday, Marian Hossa answered the question of whether or not he would play out his days with the Chicago Blackhawks and finish his mammoth contract with an emphatic “yes”. Hossa, who will turn 38 during the upcoming season, is one of very few players whose contracts predate the current NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new CBA put in place an eight-year term limit on contracts, as they looked to eliminate cap-circumventing deals like those of Ilya Kovalchuk and Roberto Luongo, as well as ridiculous offer sheets like the one submitted to Shea Weber. Prior to 2012-13, there was no such limit, and decade-plus deals were being handed out with no regard for the reality of the situation. A then-30-year-old Marian Hossa, fresh off of back-to-back Stanley Cup defeats with and against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, inked a 12-year deal with the up-and-coming Blackhawks. They’ve since won three Stanley Cups.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Hossa is entering his eighth year with the team, and the last before the bottom falls off of his contract. In the final four years, Hossa is paid just $1MM per season to balance out $7.9MM cap hits in the past seven years and a $4MM salary in 2016-17. If Hossa plays for that amount through the end of his contract, he will be 42 years old when it ends in 2020-21. If he doesn’t? The recapture penalties for Chicago would be steep and Hossa could very well cripple the team for years.
For this reason, the health and commitment of Marian Hossa will be an important story line for Hawks fans over the next five years. Hossa told the Tribune that he evaluates his physical conditioning and talent level before each season and, as of now, he still feels he has enough left in the tank to play for five more years. However, should his skill diminish or injuries pile up, he is not ruling out early retirement. No one would blame him either, as only Jaromir Jagr is currently playing at a high level in his 40’s. Hossa is ready for another big year with the Blackhawks, but it’s two, three, four seasons down the road that are really the focus for Chicago and their Hall of Fame-caliber winger.