Marian Hossa anticipates ‘amazing feeling’ at Blackhawks jersey retirement ceremony Sunday

Hossa, who also recently released an autobiography about his Hall of Fame career, has encountered plenty of reminders this week about how times are changing.

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Marian Hossa speaks Wednesday at the United Center.

Marian Hossa spoke Wednesday at the United Center ahead of his jersey retirement Sunday.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Marian Hossa has always done most things faster and better than everyone else. His determination, skill and efficiency powered him to a Hall of Fame-caliber career, headlined by three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.

So when he recently set out to write a book about his hockey journey, he was jarred to discover he couldn’t vastly outperform expectations with that, too.

“I asked the publisher, ‘How long does it take to write a book?’ ” Hossa, 43, recounted Wednesday with a smile. “They told me, ‘Oh, a year and a half [or] two years.’ I said, ‘No way. I have to do it way faster than that.’

“You know what? They were right. It took a long time. There were lots of memories coming back. I said, ‘I want to put this there; I want to delete this.’ I went back and forth so many times.”

Hossa eventually succeeded with the writing process for his autobiography, “Marian Hossa: My Journey from Trencin to the Hall of Fame,” just as he eventually has with every other venture in his life.

But the book release arguably won’t be the biggest moment of Hossa’s year. That will come Sunday, when the Hawks raise a banner bearing his No. 81 to the United Center rafters, making him the eighth player in team history to have his jersey retired.

Hossa has anticipated this moment for seven months, ever since Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz surprised him with the news in April — shortly before he signed a one-day contract to unofficially retire as a Hawk.

At that time, he seemed awestruck at the thought. Now, just a few days away from the special night — the retirement ceremony will begin at 4:30 p.m. before the Penguins-Hawks game at 6 — he still does. He’s staying in Chicago for a couple weeks, doing several book signings around the city among other adventures. While attending the Hurricanes-Hawks game Monday, his eyes couldn’t help but drift upward.

“When I look up at those jerseys hanging there, it just hit me [during] that game,” he said. “It’s just an amazing feeling [knowing that] in a few days, my ‘81’ will be there.”

“I’m not sure [how I’ll feel then], but right now, I feel great. I’m sure everything’s going to come down to that moment, but I’ll surprise myself.”

As soon as Hossa’s ceremony ends, a debate will begin in earnest about which other core players from the Hawks’ dynasty era should receive the same honor. It’s such a big deal — with so many differing opinions — that the Hawks are forming a group whose sole job will be to determine a “proper, objective way to honor everyone,” CEO Danny Wirtz said last month. Hossa unsurprisingly dodged a question about who he thinks should join him as permanent Hawks royalty.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are two locks for jersey retirement, however, and they’re also still close friends with Hossa.

“It’ll be fun to celebrate his amazing career here in Chicago and also see him and a bunch of our old teammates,” Kane said. “He obviously had an amazing career here and was probably one of the best free-agent signings in Chicago sports history. [Considering] the way he played the game, the teammate he was, [he’s] so definitely deserving of that honor.”

Hossa is still discussing with Hawks management the possibility of a role with the organization, something that has been teased since his April ceremony.

He’s keenly aware times are changing, though. Instead of making Hawks highlights himself, he now watches them each morning while cooking breakfast for his three daughters at home in Slovakia. He barely skates now because of his skin condition, suiting up in full equipment only for a pair of exhibition games against Jaromir Jagr’s Czech team.

And hanging around the United Center locker room this week, he hasn’t needed to mingle much. Kane and Toews are his only former teammates left, although he did play against now-coach Luke Richardson early in his career.

That sense of generational turnover is what inspired him to undertake the book project, which previously seemed premature to him. He’s part of history now, something the banner-hosting will cement.

“The time was right,” he said. “My third daughter was born just two months ago, and obviously my other daughters are young, too. They don’t remember a lot of things from hockey because they were so small, right? So I just felt it would be a good legacy to leave behind me. Especially when the little one reads it, she will understand who Marian Hossa was.”

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