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25 IN 25: Introducing Marian Hossa

One of the most sought-after free agents of the summer, the Blackhawks welcomed future three-time Cup champion Marian Hossa at the United Center on July 17, 2009

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc /

To celebrate 25 years of Blackhawks hockey at the United Center, looks back on the top 25 moments with '25 in 25'

Marian Hossa got an early indication that his free-agent signing with the Blackhawks was a big deal for the organization as well as a fan base yearning to support a winning team.

Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, former Red Wings who inked 12- and two-year contracts, respectively, with the Blackhawks prior to the 2009-10 season, were introduced at a news conference on the floor of the United Center on an unseasonably cool mid-July day. The pair walked down the steps between sections of cheering fans welcoming them to the city.

"It was one of the wildest press conferences I was part of," Hossa said. "It was a big signing as a free agent but coming down the stairs, I realized, 'OK, these guys really mean it - it's a big deal. They're not joking around.'"

"I was like, 'Wow, this is the market where I want to be, great right from the beginning,'" Hossa added. "It really kind of shocked me and Tomas Kopecky in a good way when we walked down the stairs for the press conference."

Video: 25 in 25: Signing Hossa

Hossa's 12-year, $62.8 million contract signaled that the Blackhawks were ready to take the next step and it payed off when the veteran helped them win their first championship in 49 years when they captured the Stanley Cup in 2010.

After reaching the finals with the Penguins and Red Wings in the two previous seasons, respectively, Hossa was one of the NHL's most sought-after free agents.

Why did he choose the Blackhawks?

"It's pretty simple: I saw the potential," Hossa said. "I had a couple of similar offers from other teams but what I liked about the Blackhawks was they were an Original Six team and had the potential to be good for a long time.

"I wanted to win so bad after a few losses in a row," Hossa continued. "I'd proven myself to be a pretty good player in the league but I'd never won something big. I just felt coming to Chicago would give me a great chance for a long time because they had the two young superstars (in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) coming up plus a great defense and goalie. That's why I decided to come to Chicago."

Bringing in Hossa turned out to be arguably the greatest free-agent acquisition in Chicago sports history as the Slovakia native proved to be a vital cog on the Blackhawks' teams that won Cups in '10, '13 and '15.

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