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Blackhawks' Youth Attracted Hossa To Chicago

by Adam Kimelman / Chicago Blackhawks
While he's moving only about four hours west, Marian Hossa aged significantly along the way from the Detroit Red Wings to the Chicago Blackhawks.

"They're going to go from two of the youngest guys last year to two of the oldest guys on our team," Chicago General Manager Stan Bowman said during a news conference Thursday to formally introduce Hossa and fellow free agent Tomas Kopecky as Blackhawks. 

While Hossa is just 30 years old -- and Kopecky only 27 -- they're graybeards compared to most of the rest of the talent that will greet them in their new locker room. Star right wing Patrick Kane is just 20, team captain Jonathan Toews is 21 and Calder Trophy nominee Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer are all 23. On defense, Cam Barker is 23, Brent Seabrook is 24 and Duncan Keith is an "old man" of 26.
It's that young core -- plus a 12-year contract reportedly valued at $62.8 million -- that attracted Hossa to Chicago.

"Playing last year in Detroit against this team wasn't easy," Hossa said. "But in looking for the future, this is a young team with lots of heart and power going forward. I think this is the right fit for me."

Hossa stressed a number of times during the news conference how much the Blackhawks' young nucleus made Chicago an appealing destination.

"They made an unbelievable impression on the League," he said, "especially with the young talent they have -- young, electrifying players.
"Playing last year in Detroit against this team wasn't easy. But in looking for the future, this is a young team with lots of heart and power going forward. I think this is the right fit for me." - Marian Hossa

"I'm with a young, tremendous team -- there's lots of talent. The talent on the team … this is a great time to be here. I look forward to working with this organization and this young team."

If Hossa plays out his contract, he'll be 42 when it's over. He was asked about the likelihood of him seeing the deal to its completion.

"Last year I was playing with one guy and he was 47," he said of former teammate Chris Chelios. "I learned lots from him, but we'll see. I would love to, but it's a hard game. You can get unlucky with injuries and things can change rapidly, but I'm hoping to play as long as I can."

He hopes the atmosphere he saw this season in Chicago also stay for a long time.

"Playing here last year, this building (United Center) always was a sellout," Hossa said. "When we came here it was a big rivalry. Playing in this building, before the national anthem you get goose bumps on your back. This building going nuts is something really special, and I'm looking forward to those fans."

The additions of Hossa and Kopecky were part of an offseason overhaul that showed the Blackhawks weren't satisfied with just reaching the Western Conference Finals last season. After signing two of the biggest free agents available last summer in defenseman Brian Campbell and goaltender Cristobal Huet, they lured the biggest fish in this summer's free agent sea in Hossa. They also added Kopecky and center John Madden, who won a pair of Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils.

Earlier this week, they elevated Bowman to GM when Dale Tallon was re-assigned to an advisory position.

"This is a very exciting day for the Blackhawks franchise," Bowman said. "We're coming off a very successful season. We didn't quite reach our goal, and in order to make changes we needed to bring in some new blood and we're very happy to have these two gentlemen (Hossa and Kopecky) as part of our Blackhawks family."

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