The lacking piece: Is John Tavares the Maple Leafs’ Marian Hossa? | NHL


CHICAGO — When Maple Leafs ahead Zach Hyman gave his impressions of John Tavares, it was clear he already shaped a reasonably sturdy image of his new high-priced teammate. And it wasn’t troublesome to note that Hyman’s description of Tavares was fairly much like a former Blackhawk who got here alongside at a comparable level in Chicago’s improvement.

“He does it proper on daily basis. I believe that’s one thing that you simply don’t know if you watch him play, is (he’s) the primary man within the fitness center stretching and he’s the final man stretching. He stretches, he takes care of his physique like a professional,” Hyman mentioned. “On the ice he’s extraordinarily sturdy on the puck. I believe that’s one in every of his greatest strengths, is within the corners hardly ever do you push him off the puck. I believe that’s an enormous asset, and he performs a 200-foot sport.”

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Should you don’t suppose that seems like Marian Hossa, you by no means heard anyone from Chicago discuss concerning the future Corridor of Fame ahead. The hope for Toronto is Tavares has the identical impression — ending 5 a long time and not using a Stanley Cup.

No, the comparability isn’t good. The spring earlier than Hossa joined the Blackhawks, they received two rounds within the playoffs and entered the 2009-10 season with an elite blue line. This group of Maple Leafs nonetheless hasn’t received a collection and as for the protection … it’s nonetheless a piece in progress. Hossa was a winger who had performed in (and misplaced) the earlier two Stanley Cup Finals; Tavares is a middle nonetheless ready to make his first lengthy playoff run after wallowing within the abyss of Lengthy Island.

However there are many parallels.

Although Toronto hasn’t gotten to the second spherical with the present group, the Leafs look primed to take that subsequent step. Up entrance, they’ve as a lot younger expertise as any crew within the NHL. By getting Tavares, the Leafs acquired among the best two-way gamers and a gentle, veteran presence. After all, that comes at a price (seven years, $77 million), and Toronto is a big cap crunch, because the William Nylander and pending Mitch Marner conditions show.

Once more, does that sound much like the 2009-10 Blackhawks? They have been proficient and able to win a Cup, and in Hossa acquired a 200-foot participant who thrived in all conditions. Then a summer season later, the center of a championship crew was ripped out due to cap issues exacerbated by Hossa’s 12-year, $63.three million deal.

Hossa made his contract price Chicago’s hassle due to every little thing he did and all they received. Tavares would possibly have the ability to do the identical for Toronto.

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“I need to be as constant as I can, so I put together myself and anticipate loads out of myself on a nightly foundation with and with out the puck,” Tavares mentioned. “I really feel like issues hold enhancing, hold getting higher, hold feeling extra comfy, and I nonetheless know there’s room for progress and (methods) to get higher.”

After being requested if there have been any similarities between Hossa’s signing with the Blackhawks and Tavares becoming a member of the Leafs, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville at first dismissed the notion, saying, “I believe that it might need been two totally different groups.”

However as Quenneville’s reply continued, he appeared to speak himself into the concept that the 2 massive strikes had issues in frequent.

“Hoss may very well be described as a man you need to play in all conditions (and) being an incredible professional, is what Hoss introduced us,” Quenneville mentioned. “Johnny Tavares, he’s an incredible professional. They know what they’re getting within the character and the participant. Hoss, we will’t say something higher than accolades that he’s deserved over time that now we have, are becoming to explain how necessary he was to our crew.”

After all, Hossa isn’t the one star who Tavares want to emulate. If he does match Hossa, he wouldn’t be the primary massive title to hitch a crew on the cusp and assist carry them a Cup.

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Maybe probably the most well-known instance is Mark Messier becoming a member of the Rangers in 1991 after profitable 5 Cups in Edmonton. Fed up with the Oilers dismantling their dynasty, Messier demanded and received a commerce in October of that yr. Three years and a assure later, Messier and the Rangers received their historic Cup thanks partly to their emotional coronary heart and soul (and 84 factors throughout the 1993-94 season), ending a 54-year dry spell.

By 1998, the Dallas Stars had established themselves as one of many NHL’s greatest groups however hadn’t discovered a approach out a loaded Western Convention that included the Purple Wings and Avalanche. The Stars then added a 34-year-old Brett Hull, whose resume solely lacked a Cup. Collectively, the Stars and Hull accomplished their legacies in 1999 by beating the Sabres for the Cup, with Hull’s controversial objective sealing the title.

Seven years after Dallas’ championship, the Anaheim Geese dropped the cartoonish ‘Mighty’ from their identification however have been nonetheless searching for a approach to the highest after dropping the 2003 Closing and falling brief within the 2006 Western Convention finals. Enter former MVP Chris Pronger, who had crushed Anaheim in that West last however needed out of Edmonton. Brian Burke and the Geese pounced and traded for Pronger, who added an additional edge and snarl for what turned out to be a championship crew.

So there’s precedent for giant names becoming a member of groups on the brink and profitable a title. Tavares is likely to be the subsequent star to do exactly that.

And although he hasn’t received a title but, it seems to be like he has the chops.

“Form of jogs my memory a number of (Jonathan Toews), in that they’re skilled. They work exhausting on daily basis. They do issues proper. Make your teammates higher. He’s a very good man for our younger guys,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock mentioned. “He’s been wonderful and he’s been getting higher on daily basis. Any time you go to a brand new program and issues are totally different, it takes you some time for it to change into computerized. I believe as he feels extra comfy he’d be that significantly better.”

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