The week-long celebration of Marian Hossa continues as the Blackhawks prepare to raise his No. 81 to the United Center rafters on Sunday, and there might not be a player that knows Hossa's game on the ice more than Jonathan Toews.
Hossa and Toews are two of the best two-way players of their generation, and together, they were dynamite. They could score, they could defend, and they often shut down the opposing teams' top line, especially in the playoffs.
Toews still finds himself applying things he learned from Hossa, both on and off the ice. The Blackhawks' captain wears his emotions on his sleeve, but Toews had grown to appreciate the much-needed balance from Hossa, whose demeanor rubbed off on him.
"I was always one of those guys that was able to compete hard every night by using that emotion, almost to a detriment," Toews said. "And I think watching Hoss over the years, you realize it's possible to play really, really hard and work hard and still have that even-keeled graceful manner in the way you do it.
"Hoss is one of those guys, he was just smooth in whatever he did, he was talented, he was smart, he was really skilled on the ice but his work ethic was another thing as well."
It's funny, Hossa is one of the most beloved players ever and yet he often times got the least amount of attention on those three Blackhawks Stanley Cup-winning teams because he quietly did his job and led by example. It never went unnoticed inside the locker room or by the fanbase, and it's why the city of Chicago embraced him from the day he signed.
"He's special," Toews said. "A lot of the attention went to guys like Seabs and Duncs and Sharpie and Kaner and myself and Shawzy and even Hammer, and I would say at his own level, almost a guy like Hoss who maybe always wasn't the center of attention but would almost surprise fans with what he was capable of doing, taking over shifts sometimes and putting three guys on his back and even if a shift would end in a goal, he would have 20,000 people on their feet.
"He was a special guy, a special player, an undercover legend and a superstar in this city. It's nice to see him get recognized for how great he was on and off the ice."
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