CHICAGO – Sunday was the rarest of rare days at the United Center as the Blackhawks had what could be considered the ultimate salute to a former player.
Marian Hossa’s No. 81 was retired in a lengthy ceremony by the Blackhawks on Sunday evening at the United Center. The Hockey Hall of Famer became the eighth player in franchise history to receive the honor and the first since No. 3 as retired for Keith Magnuson and Pierre Pilote on November 12, 2008.
It was just the sixth ceremony for a jersey retirement for the Blackhawks since the team retired two numbers at the same time twice.
Former Blackhawks player & broadcaster Eddie Olczyk served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event with former teammates Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews. Hossa’s family was with him as well, with the Hockey Hall of Famer coming on stage after the others were introduced.
The Stanley Cup was also brought to the United Center for the ceremony, in tribute to the three that Hossa won as a member of the team.
Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz spoke before Hossa took to the microphone to speak to the crowd about his time in Chicago. He talked for 21 minutes in front of the crowd as he discussed a number of aspects of his time with the Blackhawks while thanking many people he worked with.
Of course, he mentioned the fans, and how special the Blackhawks’ home venue was to him while playing there as a member of the team from 2009-2017.
“I’ll always remember the United Center full of life, full of energy, with the roar of this crowd on a big goal, bringing this madhouse alive,” said Hossa in his speech, referencing memorable moments like his Game 5 game-winner in overtime against the Predators in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs and his 500th-career goal in 2016.
You can watch Hossa’s full speech by clicking here.
Then came the retirement of his jersey, which was unfurled and then risen to the rafters along with the other banners at the arena. Hossa was the fourth player to have his number retired at the United Center, joining Dennis Savard (1998) along with Magnuson and Pilote.
Tony Esposito (1988), Glenn Hall (1988), Bobby Hull (1983), and Stan Mikita (1980) had their ceremonies at Chicago Stadium.
During his eight seasons in Chicago, he had 186 goals and 229 assists in 534 regular season games. During 107 playoff contests, Hossa had 21 scores along with 52 helpers as the Blackhawks made the postseason every year he was with them.
With the forward providing production and leadership, the team won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015 with the Hall of Famer on the roster.