[Edit: Yay, the clip is live! It's interviews with the Norwegian guys in the Oilers/Blue Jackets game. (This is from FSN Ohio, not the one that was on Sportsnet.)
Oh, Marian. :) Scoring leader and goal scoring leader right now. *sighs proudly* And there is spam.
Hossa not just whistling Dixie in Atlanta
Evan Grossman | NHL.com Staff Writer Nov 15, 2006, 12:00 PM EST
Marian Hossa says he wasn’t comfortable last season, his first with the Atlanta Thrashers. Despite his lack of comfort in Dixie, Hossa still managed to put up 92 points, a career high.
It wasn’t until the holidays last year that Hossa, traded to Atlanta with Greg de Vries from Ottawa in the blockbuster for Dany Heatley, finally got his bearings and got his game going.
“I wouldn’t say a full season, I would probably say Christmas,” Hossa says. “You know, it was kind of the first time to change for me, from one team to the other. New city, new teammates, everything was new to me, so it took a while to get comfortable again. Soon as Christmas came, I felt pretty comfortable in Atlanta and I started playing my hockey again and felt somewhat comfortable.”
This season he says he’s fine and dandy, and after Hossa has burned enemy goaltenders for a league-high 15 goals and 30 points in just the first 20 games of the season, it’s scary to think of what the sharp-shooting right wing will put up over the course of the rest of this season.
The tip of the Thrashers’ spear of attack, Hossa leads a trio of talented puck wizards that also includes Ilya Kovalchuk and Vyacheslav Kozlov, who round out the top three scorers in the league. Kovalchuk is the trigger man with a lethal one-timer who has pumped in 14 goals in 20 games, while Kozlov, also known as “The Professor” to his teammates, is the playmaker of the three with 17 assists and 26 points on the year. After leading all NHL scorers with five goals and 11 points in four games last week, Kozlov was named one of the league’s Three Stars of the Week.
“’The Professor’, he's one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with,” Hossa said on a conference call this week. “He sees plays really well, and doesn't have to use speed or quickness as much because he's smart and he can make the play and hit you when get open, and that's what makes the other players around him better.”
After nearly the first quarter of the year, Atlanta has rocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 12-5-3 record. Their 27 points trailed only Buffalo’s 31 and Anaheim’s 30, putting the Thrashers among the league’s elite for a change.
“I mean, the way we’re playing and winning more games and more people are coming to the games, I think that is good for the city,” Hossa said of the jolt of energy hockey has brought to the non-traditional Georgia market. “We’re playing good hockey right now, and it's great for us and the city. We are having more and more people. And when I came here first it was something like 13, 14,000 and, right now it's about 15,000. So it's just great.”
“We are on a winning streak,” Hossa said. “I mean, it's much more fun right now. It's always fun winning, and we got a great group of guys right now with everybody playing well.”
The Atlanta Three are off to a wickedly hot start and should they keep up the pace, Hossa, Kovalchuk and Kozlov could be the first set of teammates to finish 1-2-3 in the league in scoring since Boston’s Phil Esposito (145 points), Bobby Orr (122), and Ken Hodge (105) did it during the 1973-74 season. That same year, Wayne Cashman finished fourth in the league with 89 points, giving the Bruins a rare sweep in that statistical category.
Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky and Jarri Kurri finished 1-2 in scoring in 1984-85 and 1986-87, Gretzky and Paul Coffey did it in 1983-84, Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens did it in 1991-92 and Mario and Jaromir Jagr finished in the top-two in 1995-96, putting the Hossa-Kovalchuk-Kozlov triumvirate in some pretty heady company should they keep up their torrid pace.
“Playing with Vyacheslav Kozlov he is one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with,” Hossa said. “There's just good chemistry. On a power play, everyone is clicking. Kovy has an unbelievable one-timer, so we know we can set him up for that, and he pretty much when he shoots he scores, so the chemistry is there.”
Their chemistry on Atlanta’s lethal power play has been telepathic this season, a unit when the three are generally on the ice together, as opposed to even strength where they’re sprinkled across the top two lines. Through 20 games, Hossa and Toronto’s Darcy Tucker were tied for the league lead with nine power-play goals and Kovalchuk, who loves to blast away from the left point, was right behind with eight PPG.
“Well, I got two things to say: I think we are committed to the defense much better than last year,” Hossa said. “I think everyone is playing much better defensively and more responsible in our zone. Second thing is definitely our goalies are healthy. We’ve got great goaltending, and we're playing well and we got great goaltending right now in the league. The special teams are working well, also.”
The Atlanta power play was ranked third in the league, operating at 20.9-percent efficiency. Goalie Kari Lehtonen was among the league leaders with nine wins and two shutouts, the product of a defensive zone commitment not often seen before in the suddenly reliable Thrashers.
“Everyone's playing more committed to the defensive side,” Hossa said. “Last year we played lots of offense, but we got scored on a lot. This year seems like everybody is playing more responsible in our zone. But also our goaltending is much stronger this year and healthy and playing well. So that's another thing. We’re creating lots of offense from that.”
The offense is coming in buckets, as they say, and Hossa and Company are enjoying a brilliant start to their season as a result of it. And for the first time since the trade, Atlanta is looking down on Ottawa in the Eastern standings, and the Hossa-for-Heatley deal appears swinging in the Thrashers’ favor.
“I wouldn't say I’m paying too much attention, but obviously I look at the standings to see how other team is doing. I know the Senators are kind of like a sleeping giant because they got an unbelievable team,” Hossa said. “Just a matter of time before they put it together and start winning. On the other hand, it’s not my issue how they’re doing. But when I look at the standings I see the teams, and obviously I can see how the Senators are doing, too.”
Everyone else can see how the Thrashers are doing, and by all accounts, what they’ve done so far this season is pretty remarkable.
The fact that Marian cares about how many fans are going to see the games makes me squeak. And he's so happy when they chant his name. :) I've read things that suggest that Marian has been a good example, defensively, for Kovalchuk, but I think that it possibly extends to the rest of the team. The biggest help to their team this season is that they don't have an AHL goalie in goal for them anymore, but defensive responsibility is big, too.
Okay, so this next one makes me happy because I get pictures of Marian in an aquarium. :P
Marian Hossa, UPS, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation combined to make a big splash at the Georgia Aquarium in the debut of Hossa's Heroes.
By Jon Cooper
Already leading the NHL in points, Marian Hossa picked up plenty of assists on Monday.
Don't check the papers for a box score. The Atlanta Thrashers were not in action Monday afternoon, but their All-Star right wing was. His assists were picked up at the Georgia Aquarium as part of the inaugural event of his community program, "Hossa's Heroes" and his most obvious helper came when he aided four-year-old Ayinde Green, helping him to touch a Cownose Ray.
"Spending time with the kids," said Hossa, "They especially enjoyed touching the sharks, by the end of the day I felt like one of them."
It was time well spent for Hossa, who couldn't resist the opportunity to share his time watching sharks that weren't from San Jose.
""The more he learned about Make-A-Wish the more he wanted to be a part and meet the kids and be more hands-on," said Becky Slemons communications and marketing manager of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia & Alabama. "This event came about because the Thrashers luckily thought of us in wanting to show some kids who need a lift, around the aquarium in sort of a behind-the-scenes tour. A lot of them had not been to the aquarium, so this is going to be a real treat."
"This is a program put together with the players to have more involvement in the community," said Chris Carter, Atlanta Spirit Director of Corporate Partnership Services. "From that it spawned to bringing in some different groups to support it, give it a little more life and longevity. Hopefully over the next couple of years it's going to grow bigger than this."
The event couldn't have been any bigger or better for 10-year-old Azikiwea Green, Aynide's older brother. He endured open-heart surgery at age eight and also has battled through Kawasaki's Disease, a malady which if untreated can affect coronary arteries, which send blood to the heart.
"[Today] means a lot to the whole family but in particular to my son because through Make-A-Wish he's having an opportunity to fulfill some of his dreams but also to be a part of some meaningful, neat activities, especially for a young person," said his father, Darrell, while walking with his eight-year-old son, Khalfani. "To see him smile makes us smile as parents. Through Make-A-Wish and today the Thrashers and also the aquarium we have an opportunity to do this. It's priceless. Enough can't be said about the Thrashers as well as Make-A-Wish."
"Today is lots of fun just because he's alive and healthy now," added Darrell's wife, Sharon. "For a while we were kind of scared, not knowing what was going to happen but we're very happy that he's here and events like this confirm his wellness. The support that we have gotten as a family and what [Make-A-Wish] does for other families, it's incredible. And we couldn't do without the Thrashers or UPS.
Alpharetta resident Asif Kadri agreed with the Greens. His 16-year-old daughter, Zumer underwent a heart transplant in May. Kadri, who brought his wife and son to the aquarium, was overwhelmed by the generosity of Make-A-Wish.
"It's hard to explain in words," he said. "They're godsends. Without any manifest, just working for kids. That's amazing. [Zumer] is excited and she wants to do the same work that Make-A-Wish is doing for kids."
Making a difference is what led to the creation of "Hossa's Heroes," which is sponsored by UPS, and whose mission is to improve the lives of area children from Make-A-Wish.
"We never pass up an opportunity to do something to give back to the community," said Tom Langa, Marketing and Communications Manager at UPS. "It's one of our core, fundamental beliefs at UPS. We're in the communities every day, we're a big part of the structure of the communities and we feel an obligation to give back to the communities that have been such a big part of our success. With our sponsorship with the Atlanta Spirit, it just happened to be a good partnership and a good alignment to do something with Make-A-Wish and with Marian Hossa."
"It's exciting to have Marian Hossa here but it's really exciting that we give back to the community," added Kim MacInnis, in charge of Sponsorships and Development for Georgia Aquarium. "That's part of [Home Depot co-founder and aquarium benefactor]Bernie Marcus' philosophy and why he gave the gift of the aquarium to Atlanta."
While Hossa is used to being the big fish on a 200' x 85' pond — albeit a frozen one — on this day, he wasn't close. That honor belonged to the a quartet of Whale Sharks named Ralph, Norton, Alice and Trixie (named for the characters in the '50s sitcom The Honeymooners). But the Thrashers' star didn't feel slighted. He was having too much fun.
He met the group of three families — and multiple television camera crews — as they headed into the Ocean Voyager exhibit, which features the Whale Sharks, which are held in the largest tank in the world, one that is 33 feet deep and takes 6.2 million gallons of water to fill.
As the group wound its way through the labyrinth of hallways, Hossa played Pied Piper to his new friends. He laughed and joked and pointed at some of the more unique fish with the children.
The group saw as much as they could in the 90-minute tour, from the crate used to transport the Whale Sharks from Taiwan — via UPS, of course — to the veterinary services area, where tour guide and Aquarium Public Relations Manager Meghann Gibbons kidded "the fish go to get their plastic surgery" among other treatment, to the "fish kitchen," where tons of food are prepared daily, to the water purifying system and the multitude of exhibits, capped off by "The Largest Window in North America," the 63-foot-long, 28-foot-high, two-foot-thick Ocean Voyager Theater.
By the end of the tour, it was difficult to say who had more fun, Hossa or his heroes.
"It's the least I can do," Hossa said. "Fortunately I'm healthy and I do what I love to do. This the least that I can do for the kids and I'm glad to do this program with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and our sponsor UPS, I want to thank them. It was an excellent day."
And it won't be the last. Monday's tour is just the beginning for Hossa's Heroes, which will host another group of children on Saturday, Dec. 9 in a more familiar setting for Hossa, Philips Arena, when the Thrashers host the Pittsburgh Penguins. Another trip to the Aquarium also is in the works.
For more information on the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Georgia & Alabama call (770) 916-9474 or log onto www.ga-al.wish.org.
Pied Piper! In the first picture, it kinda' looks like he's about to dunk the kid into the water, hee!
[Edit: Okay, I wanted to find video clips of Marian in the aquarium and instead found this cached article:
THRASHERS 6, PENGUINS 4: Hossa quietly displays his talent, value
Jeff Schultz - Staff
Saturday, January 7, 2006
A Slovakian hockey star in Atlanta by way of Ottawa doesn't quite carry the same level of recognition around here as, say, a left tackle from Auburn.
But that level of anonymity has served Marian Hossa well. He ranks eighth in the NHL in scoring but could scream his name in the Five Points MARTA station and people would just look at him like, well, like anybody else screaming their name in the Five Points MARTA station.
"In some ways I like that because I have more privacy in my life," the Thrashers' right winger said Friday. "I can walk anywhere and nobody knows me. Basically, I can go shopping and don't even think about it."
Think about this: On a night when the Thrashers dumped Pittsburgh 6-4, Hossa quietly --- truth is, he really doesn't scream --- contributed another goal and two assists. It gives him 10 points in the past four games, 16 in the past nine and 52 this season.
While the Thrashers --- 9-2-3 in the last 4 games --- have evolved into a playoff contender, Hossa has at least reaffirmed his identity inside the arena. When he scored two goals in the Dany Heatley Returns Game, Atlanta fans actually chanted his name. Name chanting generally has not been a common occurrence in Thrashers history, unless followed by a biting adjective.
The chant was audible again in the second period Friday night when Hossa drove to the net with the puck on a power play and slipped the puck past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Thrashers a 4-0 lead.
"It's nice to hear that," Hossa said of the chant. "The fans are getting excited. This feels more like home now."
Few superstars have ever changed employers in more awkward circumstances. Hossa is one of the top 10 players in the game, but his price tag grew out of Ottawa's reach, circumstances that intersected with Heatley's stunning trade request. Strange as it may sound, the atmosphere that led to Heatley being booed in Monday's 8-3 Thrashers' win over the Senators probably fed to Hossa's popularity.
Hossa was taken aback when he heard his name Monday, but coach Bob Hartley said, "It meant a lot to him. Obviously, we're making a push for the playoffs, but so is the city. The fans are starting to believe in us, and they sent a clear message to Hoss. It was his formal welcome to Atlanta."
Hossa is that rare combination of speed, size, discipline and intelligence. "With the new rules, nobody can catch him," said Ilya Kovalchuk, who had a hat trick Friday.
Suffice it to say, he also carries himself a little quieter than Kovalchuk, who after his second goal Friday taunted/pointed at Pittsburgh rookie Sidney Crosby in the penalty box. Hossa won't even point out himself, much less an opponent.
"A coach's dream," Hartley said.
He leads the team's forwards in ice time. Of his 22 goals, 10 have come on the power play and four short-handed (which already doubles the previous franchise record).
Hard to imagine, but there was a transition period after the trade. Hossa said it was, "hard for me because it was a new team, a new system, and the team was struggling."
Player and team are doing fine now. Hossa has even managed to work in some sightseeing.
"My girlfriend and I went to see the Coca-Cola museum and the new aquarium," he said. "But Atlanta is not like a European city. It's not like an old city where you go see an old castle or old buildings."
When told one reason for that is the city was burned down by Sherman in the Civil War, Hossa said: "Really? I didn't know that? You learn something new every day. Very nice."
A few more months and he'll know the faces on Stone Mountain. And maybe somebody will recognize his face.
I like how his response to being told that the city was burned down is "very nice".]