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Hossa can validate decision to sign with Wings

Sunday, 06.07.2009 / 2:41 PM / 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

DETROIT -- This is what Marian Hossa signed up for when he agreed on a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings last summer.

This is why he took less money and declined to sign a long-term deal elsewhere.

Indeed, Hossa is one win away from his first Stanley Cup championship. If only it didn't have to come against the Pittsburgh Penguins -- the team he left and desperately tried to keep him.

One would have to think it would be somewhat of an awkward feeling for Hossa should he hoist Lord Stanley at Mellon Arena on Tuesday night. After Saturday's 5-0 win against the Pens in Game 5, though, Hossa downplayed it being a distraction.

"I don't think about it yet," Hossa said. "There's still hard work in front of us and there's still a huge step in front of us. We're just trying to focus on the next game."

Less than 24 hours after the Wings' convincing victory, at least one of Hossa's teammates admitted the difficulty of handling such a unique situation. While Hossa has yet to score in this series, Detroit forward Daniel Cleary said he's been impressed by the way he has handled himself in the Stanley Cup Final against his ex-teammates. Hossa picked up an assist on Saturday night, his third of the series.

"It can't be easy, but when you're an elite player, there's always pressure on you to perform," Cleary said. "That's what makes players elite -- their ability to handle that and play through it. He's handled it well. It's not easy to go Pittsburgh and play against your old team, but he's been very good. He's been hard on the puck and physical. I'm sure he's excited. We feed off the whole atmosphere in Pittsburgh. It should be fun Tuesday."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock is certainly pleased to have Hossa -- who scored 40 goals during the regular season -- on his side this time around. Unquestionably, a Stanley Cup championship would help Hossa validate his decision to bolt Pittsburgh for Motown.

"I don't know if he's second-guessing," Babcock said. "He's a man, he made a decision. I think he's really pleased with his decision. In some ways, it's probably as difficult a situation for him as it could have been. There could have been a lot of other teams we'd be playing and it would have been easier and we wouldn't be talking about this stuff.

"But I'm a big believer in life, when you make a decision, it's a good one because you made it. You thought about it, and you made the decision … now you live with it and you enjoy it. I think that's what he's doing."

That being said, Babcock doesn't plan on including anything along the lines of 'Win one for Marian' in his pre-game speech on Tuesday night.

"Every guy in that room wants to win for a whole bunch of different reasons," Babcock said on Sunday. "But to have success, you have to want to do it for the guy next to you and the guy across from you and the guys you're playing with. You become a tight-knit, close group when you go to battle night in and night out. There are lots of different theories on team building. But winning together, paying the price, getting hurt, getting the puck out when someone's rolling over the top of you, laying down to block a shot … to me, that's team building. That's doing it for one another.

"That's what this is all about. You win together today, you walk together forever. I'm a big believer in that. You never forget the guys you've won with. Hossa has an opportunity, and if we all play well, to remember this group of guys."

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.


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