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Stanley Cup Final

Blackhawks sign Marian Hossa, Kopecky, Madden

Wednesday, 07.01.2009 / 5:55 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Maybe Marian Hossa's Stanley Cup jinx will end in Chicago. Boy would the Windy City faithful love that.

Barring a trade, the Slovakian star forward will have 12 years to try to help the Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup since 1961 and he may have to go through his last two teams to get it done.

Arguably the biggest fish in this year's free-agent pool, Hossa, who scored 40 goals and 71 points while playing under a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings this past season, has signed a stunning 12-year contract with the Blackhawks that is worth a reported $5.2 million per season.

Another Slovak and former Red Wing, Tomas Kopecky, is following Hossa to Chicago with a two-year contract. Kopecky had a career-high 19 points in 79 games this past season and 32 points in 183 games spread over four seasons with the Red Wings. Later in the day, the Hawks added veteran center John Madden; TSN reported that the 36-year-old former New Jersey Devil, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, signed a one-year contract worth $2.75 million. He had 7 goals and 23 points in 76 games and will likely take the place of Sami Pahlsson, who left to sign with Columbus.

But Hossa was the big prize for Chicago GM Dale Tallon.

"We had talked to (Hossa's agent) Ritch Winter last year briefly, but I think the success the team had last year helped influence his decision," Tallon said. "It's nice to know that players want to come here. How could you not? We have a great young team, we sell out every night in a great building that is rocking and it's a great city to live in. Those were all the things Marian was concerned about and he made his decision based off of that."

If Hossa plays out the length of his contract, he'll be 42 when it expires. Nevertheless, his signing gives Chicago another major piece to what could be a championship puzzle. It also signaled the end of Martin Havlat's time in Chicago after four seasons marred by injuries.

Tallon negotiated with Havlat, who scored 29 goals this past season when he was finally healthy, until noon ET Wednesday, but couldn't come to an agreement on the terms of a contract.

Similarly, Tallon spent part of Wednesday trying to get goalie Nikolai Khabibulin back in the fold, but the 36-year-old eventually signed with Edmonton for four years and a reported $15 million.

Cristobal Huet appears to be the No. 1 goalie going forward as his contract calls for another three years and more than $16 million. But the Hawks like their organizational depth at the position with Corey Crawford, Antti Niemi, Joe Fallon and Alec Richards.

"I want to wish Marty and Nik all the best," Tallon said. "They were tremendous assets and great Blackhawks, but we're turning the page and moving forward."

They're moving forward with a player who chased a Stanley Cup this past year only to fall short for the second straight season.

After being on the wrong end of the 2008 Cup Final while with Pittsburgh, Hossa decided the Wings gave him his best chance at winning the Cup in 2009, so he signed a one-year deal. Pittsburgh wound up beating Detroit in seven games.

The Blackhawks, though, are one of the marquee up-and-coming teams in the NHL. They made a run to the Western Conference Final this past season before losing to Hossa and the Red Wings.

Hossa, who has scored at least 40 goals three times, is joining a lineup that already has plenty of star power, including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp. Dave Bolland recently re-signed for five years. Tallon is negotiating new contracts with restricted free agents Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser and Crawford.

"I didn't talk to any of our guys (about Hossa) other than our scouts and staff and other people in other organizations as far as his past, his history and his character," Tallon said. "I know our players will love him. He's a great guy and a great player. They're going to love being with him."

As grand as this is for Chicago today, the Hawks window of opportunity may be small despite adding the talented Hossa to their youthful lineup.

Kane, Toews and Keith are all due new contracts after this season, and they will command top dollar. Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien are each signed for another two seasons before they can potentially become restricted free agents.

So while the salary cap could start rearing its ugly head soon, Tallon said the terms of Hossa's deal gives him more flexibility in his quest to keep the core together. Still, there is a chance a trade could be in the offing in the future in order to free up some cap space.

"The type of contract that Marian has agreed to will not influence our core," Tallon said. "They will get taken care of. We have identified who the top guys are in our organization and this will not affect that.

"Everything we're doing is to keep the core together and Marian wants to play with good players, to play on a good team and he wants to win," the GM added. "This deal was important to get done at this term to help us in the future solidify that core group."

The Hawks are Hossa's fifth NHL team -- and fourth in less than 17 months. Atlanta traded him to Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2008. He finished the '07-08 season with the Penguins before signing his famous one-year contract with the Wings on July 2, 2008.

A year later Hossa is a Blackhawk, but this marriage should have some staying power.

"As a 30-year-old he can be one of the elder statesman on our young team," Tallon said. "He's a gamebreaker; an elite, world-class player"

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com



It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday