So yesterday Marian Hossa joined an extremely elite group of hockey players to have their contracts sent to the Arizona Coyotes. He now joins Chris Pronger and Pavel Datsyuk as some of the best players in Coyotes’ franchise history. Now with Marian Hossa’s contract getting dealt yesterday coupled in with the fact that Ilya Kovalchuk will be returning to the NHL this year on a 3-year deal, it got me to thinking. This will most likely end up being the final time that Marian Hossa is traded in the NHL. But let’s go back to the first time he was traded.
On August 23, 2005, Marian Hossa was traded from the Ottawa Senators along with Greg de Vries in exchange for Dany Heatley. Fuckin’ All Star, ever heard of him? Now to be fair to the Atlanta Thrashers, there were quite a few circumstances surrounding this trade that were out of their hands. For starters, there was the car crash in 2003 which resulted in the death of Dan Snyder. It also cut Heatley’s 2004 season drastically short and then his 2004-05 season was completely cut due to the NHL lock out. So between the car crash and the lock out, Dany Heatley just wanted out of Atlanta and wanted to start somewhere new. Nothing that Atlanta could really do about that and they ended up getting a great player out of the trade in Marian Hossa. The point of this blog isn’t to say that Marian Hossa isn’t a legend. But let’s just look at what happened next.
In the 12-year existence of the Atlanta Thrashers, they had been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs just one time. That was in 2006-07 when they won the Southeast division. They ended up getting swept in the first round by the New York Rangers. Now Marian Hossa had a pretty good 2 seasons leading up to those playoffs. He put up 92 points in 2005-06 and then ended up with 43 goals and 100 points in 2006-07. But when the playoffs rolled around? Marian Hossa had one assist in 4 games and that was all she wrote for the Atlanta Thrashers.
Meanwhile up in Ottawa, Dany Heatley put up 50 tucks in his first two seasons with the Senators. He had 103 points in 2005-06 and ended with 105 in 2006-07. In the same year that the Atlanta Thrashers made it to the playoffs for the first and only time in franchise history, the Ottawa Senators would go on to the Stanley Cup Final that year. Dany Heatley had 7 goals and 22 points in his 20 playoff games during that run. The Senators ended up losing to the Ducks in the Final but that shit doesn’t happen without Heater being a fuckin’ all star. (Sidenote: Heatley lost the Cup in ’07 with the Sens. Hossa lost the Cup in ’08 with the Pens. Hossa lost the Cup again in ’09 with Detroit. That trade was looked cursed as hell until Hossa finally won it for the first time in 2010 with Chicago. Could have been 4 straight Final losses with 4 different teams for that trade).
Lost in all this is the fact that Ilya Kovalchuk was an absolute monster during these years as well. He had 52 in 2005-06 so the Thrashers could have had two 50-goal scorers on that roster. He put up 42 in 06-07 and then had another 52-goal season in 2007-08. What I’m saying is that if you gave Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk just a few more seasons together, I can guarantee you that team doesn’t get swept in the first round of the playoffs. I can guarantee you that team ends up winning at least a playoff series or two. And that’s all it would have taken for the Thrashers to really take off in Atlanta. Just one or two playoff series wins and the Thrashers could have been heroes of that town. Because let’s take a look at the rest of the town.
- The Atlanta Falcons went from 2004-2012 between wins in the playoffs. That’s 7 full seasons without a single postseason win.
- The Atlanta Braves haven’t won a series in the postseason since 2001. They lost in the NLDS 4 years in a row from 2002-2005. Then didn’t make the playoffs for another 4 years.
- The Atlanta Hawks missed the playoffs from 2000-2007. They finally made the playoffs again in 2007-08 but lost in the first round to the Celtics.
So the years that Marian Hossa was in Atlanta were from 2005-2008. That was a time when the city of Atlanta would have latched on to anything. All the Thrashers had to do would be to win one playoffs series and they’d be the biggest winners in that town. Dany Heatley was the missing key to all of that success. And after that, you never know what could have happened. If Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk won a couple of playoff series together, all of a sudden you’re bringing in more fans. If you’re bringing in more fans, the organization is making more money. If you’re making more money, then maybe ownership doesn’t sell the team to Winnipeg. And if there’s not that fear of the team being sold and relocated, maybe Ilya Kovalchuk signs an extension in Atlanta instead of having to get dealt to New Jersey.
So did the Dany Heatley trade for Marian Hossa kill the Atlanta Thrashers? Why yes. Yes it did.