Blackhawks retire Marian Hossa’s No. 81 Jersey

Blackhawks officially retire Marian Hossa’s No. 81 jersey at a ceremony prior to the team’s NHL game at the United Center.

Surrounded by family, all six other three-time Stanley Cup champions, and 21,000-plus fans who had arrived two hours early, Marian Hossa watched a banner rise to the rafters at the United Center, Sunday, signifying the official retirement of his No. 81 number within the Blackhawks.

The 50-minute pregame ceremony started with a guest appearance by Eddie Olczyk, who emceed the event. It continued with former teammates Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews joining the center circle, and also included a surprise appearance from the Stanley Cup.

“It is such an honor to be here tonight and to share this with all of you,” Hossa said during a 20-minute speech filled with heartfelt sentiment, a few jokes and many words of appreciation. “It is incredibly humbling to have my No. 81 forever hung here.”

There will forever be #OnlyOne81 in Chicago ☝️
Congratulations, Marian Hossa on your jersey retirement with the @NHLBlackhawks! 👏
#NHLAlumni #Blackhawks

Hossa’s banner hung on the east side of the arena — beneath the Hawks’ 2013 championship banner — after the ceremony and throughout the game, but it’ll presumably move over to the north side before the Hawks’ next home game Friday against the Canadiens. Considering Tony Esposito’s No. 35 was previously the highest number the Hawks had retired, some banner reorganization will be necessary.

Hossa was the first one of the championship core to have his number retired, but he certainly won’t be the last. It’s only a matter of time before No. 2, 19 and 88 join him.

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