Marian Hossa signed a 12-year contract worth millions of dollars July 1 to be a Blackhawk for the rest of his career. Wednesday in San Jose, he'll finally start honoring the deal as he's expected to make his debut for Chicago.
Hossa has been out since having shoulder surgery July 24, just 23 days after signing his monumental contract, reportedly worth $62.8 million. He has been skating with the club for a bunch of practices, but Tuesday coach Joel Quenneville said, "All systems are go."
"Sometimes you're not sure, but I'm happy," Hossa told reporters Tuesday in San Jose. "It's been four months and I feel good on the ice and I'm ready to go."
Hossa's return is even more interesting considering who he will be playing with. In Tuesday's practice, Quenneville had him on the right side of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
If that line works, it's one we could see together and dominating in front of sold-out arenas for years.
"Hopefully we can stay together a long time, a lot of years, and do a lot of damage," Kane said Tuesday. "He came here to win and we're here to win, too. We have to take advantage of the opportunity, that's for sure."
Neither Kane nor Toews should have any problems adapting to Hossa. Kane said Hossa gets open in a way that's similar to Patrick Sharp, and he likes the give-and-go plays as much as former Blackhawk Martin Havlat.
"Basically anybody can handle the puck on the line," Hossa said. "So we'll try to play give-and-go and don't try to be too fancy. We'll just keep it simple, go to the net, shoot the puck and just try to have fun, also."
The only issue is Hossa and Kane are more comfortable on the right wing. Hossa, though, is a left-handed shot with a big body (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), so Quenneville hopes to take advantage of him on the off-wing. Kane is also a left-handed shot.
"We have a lot of depth in that position (right wing), so being flexible moving them left to right or in the middle, we're in a good situation," Quenneville said. "When they're just playing hockey, their instincts will take over anyway."
Hossa is joining a lineup that certainly is clicking.
Chicago has won seven straight games heading into its showdown with the West's No. 1 team, the Sharks. The Hawks are 15-5-2 and lead the Central Division by five points over Nashville and Columbus. Detroit is six points back in fourth place.
Hossa has been one of the League's elite forwards for the better part of a decade now; last season with Detroit he had 40 goals, 31 assists and was a career-best plus-27 in 74 games.
He's played in the Stanley Cup Final in each of the past two seasons. And now he's ready to play his first game with the Blackhawks.
"This has been the first time I've ever missed training camp or the beginning of the season, and it's definitely not fun," Hossa said. "You have your own schedule. You're working for a long time all by yourself and with the conditioning, trying to get into shape. Soon I'll be on the team's schedule and I can't wait."