May 212014

Lindbloom_Hossa_LowRiderBig Hoss drives a little slower

“Low rider don’t use no gas now
Low rider don’t move to fast” – War

By Rich Lindbloom

In the excellent Blackhawk program that they sell inside the United Center, they list the players and their likes on a variety of things. Favorite food, music, movie, hobby and cars are often noted among them. I’m not sure what kind of car Marian Hossa chose, (my guess would be along the lines of a Ferrari), but …

For one reason or another I could always envision Big Hoss cruising down the streets of Southern California in a Lowrider. To me, it seems that is just the way he rolls. There’s a coolness and pride associated with the Lowriders that seems to complement Hossa’s game. While everyone else is flying frenetically around the ice like chickens with their heads cut off, Marian just seems to be cruising. Think Pedro’s cousins-don’t touch that bike dude!

Let’s take a moment and check out Hoss’s hooptie with the Blackhawks since the 2009/10 season. Actually, Marian has been in four of the last six Stanley Cup playoffs – hopefully that will be five out of seven in the near future. That my friends, is what is known as a positive track record. Before we go any further though, I have to stress that the #81 car does not fit one hilarious description of “hoopties” that I found in the Urban dictionary;

Any car that meets the following: a) driver must enter through the passenger side b) three different brand and size tires – three of them missing hub caps c) exhaust is held up by half a clothes hanger – other half replaces the antenna d) backfires every three blocks – loudest backfire being when car is turned off e) must open doors at drive throughs because windows won’t roll down f) you only get one am station and the tape deck eats all tapes inserted g) can’t open the glove box as the whole thing will fall out h) if you let go of the steering wheel while driving the car will make a u-turn i) must manually move blinker lever up and down as it will no longer blink by itself j) must keep one foot on the break and on on the accelerator when at a complete stop k) has all of the above issues but still has a $200 professional tint job

Obviously, things tend to get distorted from their original archetype. I certainly prefer and I’m referring to Harold Brown’s description of the Low rider when comparing it to Hossa;

“We were trying to convey that the Lowrider gets a little higher by riding in his automobile, being proud of how he takes care of his ride. It’s like riding around in your trophy. We have found that if you are a real Lowrider with a nice ride and it is clean you will find that his or her home and workplace is neat and in order. We Lowriders like to make our surroundings better by taking pride in what we are blessed with.” – Harold Brown, War’s drummer

Certainly, we in Chicago have been blessed with Hossbollah. The Lowrider seems to tie in with the “I’m Marian Hossa, and you’re not,” mindset we’ve come to know over his fifth year wearing the Indian head on his chest. (The good news is we have him under contract for seven more years, although he may need assistance lacing up his skates by the end of that contract.) Anyone can plunk down $250,000 for a Ferrari – it takes a special homie to trip out a car. With all the super stars on the Hawks, on occasion Hossa’s massive contributions can be put on the back burner. Make no mistake about it though, Hossa is a special hockey player.

He oozes coolness and takes tremendous pride playing both ends of the ice. I recall a friend during the first Cup run complaining about his point production, 15 points in 22 games. “He’s not being paid the big bucks to play defense,” he complained. However, watching Big Hoss back check is as exciting to me as a Sharpie breakaway. (The really good news is, Baby Hoss – Brandon Saad – seems to be learning from the master of the back check.) Listen to what Tazer said about Hossa when Jonathan was relegated to the press box while injured recently;

“I was almost laughing one time, sitting in the locker room watching the game. I can’t remember who it was, but he turned the puck over. Hossa was at their goal line and they intercepted the puck at their blue line. He caught the guy on the backcheck by the red line. (center ice) It was pretty amazing to see.” (Sometimes, it’s just plain ridiculous)

I know the Selke award, (given to the forward who demonstrates the skill in the defensive component of the game) is usually given to a center. I think it is an absolute travesty that #81 has never even been nominated for the D-dawg award. I’ve been watching this game for over 50 years now and have never seen anybody back check like him. As Marian noted, “Scoring goals is fun but I think it’s just as fun to steal the puck.”

Hossa may have saved Private Leddy on Sunday when Nick blew a tire while the Hawks were on a power play. It looked like the Kings were off to the races for a 2-1 at this critical juncture of the game. Somehow, Hossa appeared out of nowhere to stick check and then keep the puck in the Kings zone. And probably save Leddy’s life, or at least his starting position, in the process!

For me, it was a highlight reel play, one that never shows up on the score sheet unless you look into the advanced metrics that only JenLC at can figure out. (I long for the days when I just watched this game because of the speed and a bunch of big guys skating around hitting each other.) Indeed, it was the type of play a potential Selke forward makes on a regular basis. Hawk fans, never take for granted Hossa’s defensive contributions – they are the stuff that makes Stanley Cup Champions. Forget about voting for Pedro, Vote for Hossa for Selke!

Hossa’s offensive contributions are nothing to sneeze at either. In 152 playoff games, Hossa has 43 goals and 70 assists. Currently coupled with Toews and Bickell, this line almost seems unfair. I think Mcclure at said, “when those three are asked who’s name they should put a dinner reservation under, they reply, “hell.” I’ve marveled at how hard it is for opponents to try to take the puck away from Hossa as he skates circles in the offensive zone. As Happy Gilmore put it, “That’s daddy’s puck and you don’t touch daddy’s puck.”

Marian’s contributions in Game One of The Conference Finals, (pinch me – is this really are fourth appearance in the last six years!), were gigantic. He did not score, but had two wonderful assists, most notably his clever drop pass to Jonny Oduya. As one of the bloggers noted, “What in the hell do you think Jonathan Quick was thinking when he saw Hossa on one wing and Tazer on the other moments before #19 sent the pick back to the Precambrian Era.

And of course there was “The Hit.” Dustin Brown had Big Hoss lined up in his sights as he began to circle behind the Hawks net. While a better play might have been to start back checking like Hossa does, Brown was intent on delivering a big hit on #81 – ya know, trying to send him a message and everything.

Unfortunately, for Brown – the rest of the league roared its approval I’m sure, Big Hoss saw him coming and as Jerry Garcia would sing Brown “was set up like a bowling pin.” Marian gave the LA nozzle a fore are shiver that would make Dan Hampton proud! Needless to say Dustin was dusting off his britches after a collision that sent him sprawling. It may have only been Hossa’s fourth hit of the season, but it was a beauty. C’mon admit you meatball hocky fans, that hit was as good as any goal scored in the game!

At age 35, how long can Hossa continue to ply his trades for the Blackhawks? He has seven years left on his contract, although the grind of playing in the NHL night after night is certainly taking its toll on 6’2″, 210 pound right winger. I watched a post-game interview with Duncan Keith after Game One and he looked mentally exhausted. (Liz at secondcityhockey made me laugh when she noted, “That’s just the way Keith is. He hates everything.”)

However, the grind of trying to reach the Stanley Cup Finals appeared to be taking its toll on Keith. After winning two Stanley Cups in the last two years, the Hawks are well aware of what it takes to win it all. Nothing less than giving 110% on every shift will get the job done. There is a considerable price to be paid.

I’m thinking fans cannot begin to grasp the physical and mental stress it takes to advance in the playoff war of attrition. Maybe that’s why there have been so few back to back winners of the Cup. The sacrifice required to win it all is a grinder that few are willing to endure, especially after already winning a Cup. Having a Lowrider cruising the ice is a definite plus in breaking through the barriers that are required. Cool, calm and collective – it seems nothing fazes Big Hoss.

Well, I almost got through an article without a story; almost. I had a friend back in High School who bought a Lowrider as his first car. I went with Jack to pick up the bad boy on a sunny summer morning. It was a gorgeous metallic blue, tripped out to the max. Hot tires, tinted windows, jacked up back end – really cool bucket seats. After we picked it up, we headed to Jack’s house to show his dad. Of course we jammed in Deep Purple’s Machine Head album into the 8 tack player – you know that’s right.

When we pulled in the driveway, Jack’s dad came out and said something along the lines of “What the hell is that?”  I don’t think I ever saw Mr Carlson so ticked off. He wasn’t too happy the doors had no door handles. You had to crack open the little vent window and pull a wire on the inside that opened the door.

After he thoroughly questioned Jack’s sanity, he went back into the house, laughing and shaking his head at the same time. He didn’t even stay out long enough to see the oil dripping on the driveway. You know what, at the risk of looking cool, what’s a minor oil leak? But I sure do remember Jack keeping a wary eye on his oil level!

After 17 years of playing in the NHL, Marian has started to leak a little oil himself. I’m not sure how many more years he has left in him as far as vying for the Stanley Cup is concerned. However, I’ll gladly “Take a Little Trip with Hossa” into June this season. Conversations about the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, (MVP of the playoffs), is in high gear. Personally, I think it’s a little premature to talk about candidates before you reach the Finals. However, I’d be the first to interject The Lowriders name into consideration, even if he does move a little slower.


Other Important stuff:

Will the refs ever call a penalty on the Kings for tripping Brandon Saad? Or interfering with Kaner?

I forgot how much I loathe Willie Mitchell. He backs away from Bollig, but is a real tough guy when he has Versteeg cornered.

Much as I hate to admit it, I believe Abbot and Costello got the no goal right. I’m still not sure if they know “Who is on first.”

Wow, did Keith’s goal take a wicked hop, eh?

If there is one area I think we might have an advantage this series, it seems are blue line is stronger. Anyone who has Willie Mitchell battening down the hatches will eventually run into some difficulties.

Liz from had a perfect new nickname for Brandon Bollig – Falloverig.

Keep grinding Hawks, keep grinding. We only want four or five more Cups.

Rich Lindbloom

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