Marian Hossa now has a reason to raise his hands in victory. He has just signed with the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.
“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” said Ken Holland, Detroit's general manager. “He’s a premier power forward. Heading into the off-season, he was on our wish list, but to think in reality that we would get a shot at him given our commitments heading into the ’08-09 season—we really wanted to keep a lot of our team together—but in the end Marian made it happen by agreeing to come on a one-year deal.”
Hossa, 29, played an integral part in the Pittsburgh Penguins quest for the Cup against the Wings. He racked up 29 goals and had 37 assists in the 2007-08 regular season, and added 12 goals and 14 assists to his totals during the playoffs. In 701 career games, he has scored 299 goals and had 349 assists with a plus-85 rating.
So, you're looking for a repeat...
“I wanted the best chance to win the Stanley Cup, and I feel like Detroit is the team,” Hossa said Wednesday afternoon. “It wasn’t easy to throw that much money away, but I know I made the right decision. I truly believe that I made the right decision.”
Hossa had many attractive offers on the table before he decided on joining the Wings organization. One offer came from the Edmonton Oilers for a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract.
"Basically, what this comes down to is Marian's commitment to sacrifice money to come here, because he feels we give him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup," Holland said. "It shows how important winning is to him and his desire to play with good players. Marian made this day happen. He's a premier power forward who wanted to make this marriage happen, and we're thrilled to have worked out a one-year contract."
I'm hungry...are you?
That's the difference between hockey players and other professional sports. Baseball, basketball, and football players will go after the money, whereas hockey players want their name inscribed on that Cup. And they will do almost anything to get it.
Players in the NHL will look for that team that they think has the best chance to win Lord Stanley and they will let a guaranteed multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts stay on the table for that chance. Players like Dominic Hasek and Dallas Drake. They become hungry to win the Cup.
“I really think that Dallas Drake was a major factor in us winning the Stanley Cup,” Holland said. “Obviously, with his play on the ice—but for Dallas, he made a lot of sacrifices to come here to give himself an opportunity. When we got close, I thought a lot of our players played for Dallas.”
Drake came to Detroit in the summer of 2007 with one goal in mind—he wanted to win a Stanley Cup. After six seasons with the St. Louis Blues organization, his dream became reality with the Wings.
Hasek took almost the same quest. After nine seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and six Vezina Trophies to his credit, he opted to come to Detroit for the 2001-02 season. With his outstanding goaltending that season, the Wings won their tenth Stanley Cup.
Easy come, easy go...
“It wasn’t easy to throw that much money away, but I know I made the right decision. I truly believe that I made the right decision,” said Hossa.
Along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Edmonton Oilers were also vying for Hossa's talents. They put together an $80 million deal over nine years. But the Czech star's priorities have changed after 10 seasons.
"Obviously, they're a great organization, with a great history, a great past," said Hossa. "Going to an Original Six team, I've never done that before. Also my friend, Tomas Kopecky, is there. I was in contact with him during the year. We talked about them."
Eenie, meany, minie, moe...
With the acquisition of Hossa, Head Coach Mike Babcock, along with Holland and the rest of the front office have a decision to make—which line do we put him on? The obvious spot is the Pavel Datsyuk/Henrick Zetterberg line.
"Marian is a premier player in this League," Holland said. "We wanted to add another forward who could fit into our top six, and now we have a forward that could fit into our top three. He's strong down low in the offensive zone, is capable of hanging on to the puck, and has a tremendous work ethic. He kills penalties, and will backcheck and play defense. This was certainly a deal we couldn't pass up."
Hossa was a first-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in 1997, and was runner-up for the Calder Trophy in 1998 behind Chris Drury. After being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005, he recorded his best two seasons.
He racked up 92 points (39 goals and 53 assists) beating his best season by 10 points. The next season, he scored 43 goals and had 57 assists for his first 100 point year. With Detroit, he should easily record that many.
A final word, Marian?
"Of all the NHL teams, I always had Pittsburgh and Detroit in mind since they were the two teams I really liked," Hossa said. "At the end of day, I felt strongly about Detroit. I had a great time in Pittsburgh and they have great players, coaches, and fans—and that made this a tough decision. I do feel I have a better chance to win the Cup with Detroit."
Well, welcome to Hockeytown, Mr. Hossa!