By this point, Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa
knows the drill like he knows how to pick teams as a free agent.
Each time he makes himself available for interviews of late, the first thing people want to talk about is the so-called "Hossa Hex" and his personal experience of losing back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals with Pittsburgh (against Detroit) and then Detroit (against Pittsburgh).
Being the nice guy that he is, Hossa answers the best he can -- but judging by his facial expressions, it's clearly getting old.
"I've been asked this many times," was a common way that Hossa started his answers during Wednesday's media session following practice at the United Center.
Hossa, a premier goal-scorer who has scored only twice goals this postseason, also shed some light on other topics – such as his leadership style, his goal drought and why the talented, young Blackhawks must not take this opportunity for granted.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
"I'm not a huge talker. I just try to do everything on the ice. Seeing that the scoring isn't there the way I'd like, I try to help in other ways, like defensively."
Q: So, you lead more by example?
"Pretty much. Anybody here can tell you that I'm not a huge talker. I never was. I try to say something really big, like everybody else, but I'm not the person who you look for to make big speeches."
Q: Three straight Stanley Cup Finals. Three different teams. People have mentioned that a lot recently. You sure know how to pick teams, huh?
(Laughs) "Yeah, it's tough, you know. If you could be a free agent every year and could pick your team, what are the chances? But I've been in this position now for the third year in a row, and this time would be much nicer and more enjoyable to go all the way."
Q: What was the main reason you wanted to come here?
"To tell you the truth, there were a few teams in the beginning that called me when I could start talking to teams, and Chicago was one of the first. They made an offer and I was talking to my agent, and I said, 'This could be the right fit. Why wait?' So, we signed the deal. It was pretty quick."
Q: A lot of young teams in all sports, when they get to the Finals or World Series or Super Bowl, they're happy to be there and don't realize how bitter it is if things don't go well. Is that something you're imparting to these kids this week -- don't just be happy to be here?
"Definitely. It is fun to be here, but the last two years from my experience … it's not fun when you lose, because you go all the way and maybe you lose in Game 7 by one goal. That's the worst way it can go, right? I mean, we don't really need to talk too much in this dressing room because the guys are realizing that it's great to be here , but we're not satisfied yet. You can just feel it in the room, so we don't need to make big speeches about it."
Q: How does this compare to the first year that Pittsburgh made it when you were there? Was it the same sort of mind-set?
"I've been asked this question lots of times, so every time is different, but there are some similarities. Looking back two years ago, Pittsburgh was a young team like Chicago is right now. You had Crosby-Malkin and now you've got Toews and Kane are the two big stars. You've also got lots of great young players around the dressing room (here)."
Q: Whose room was more fun, Blackhawks or Penguins?
"There's always individual players who are going to stand out. There's lots of fun here and there was lots of fun there. It's tough to say."
Q: I'm sure you've answered this question over and over again, but the third time's the charm, right? You had a discussion with Joel Quenneville about that yesterday?
"He just came up to me yesterday and we had a little chat and talked about the third time being in the Finals (being the charm). I said I've heard that lots of times and I hope it turns out to be true."
Q: Brian Campbell was saying that he couldn't seem to make it past the conference finals round in the four times he'd had the opportunity. This is your third straight Finals. How much does it mean to you?
"This could sometimes be (an) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that's how we have to take it. The young guys sometimes don't realize. They sometimes feel like this is my first (few) years in the National Hockey League and this is how it's (always) going to be. But we all know it's not going to be that way, you know? So this is a great chance and we have to make sure we put everything into it."
Q: Do you think that because they are so young it might actually help, because maybe they don't realize how difficult it can be?
"Yeah, sometimes it can be an advantage to be so young. You don't think about these things. You just go out and play your game. But you also have to know that this is a great opportunity."
Q: You are going to put an end to the whole 'Hossa Hex,' right? That's just hogwash, right?
"I don't think about that. This is just another year and that's how I'm looking at it."
Q: These two teams only played once this year. Do you expect there to be kind of a feeling-out process on Saturday?
"The thing is that you don't play too many games against the Eastern Conference, but if you watch hockey games you know what to expect. I'm sure they are going to be high-intensity games and we'll have to be ready for it."
Q: How deep are the Flyers?
"They're a great team. When you look at the big picture, they almost didn't make the playoffs, right? You have to give them lots of credit that they've come all the way to the Finals from that point and they had that huge turnaround against Boston. They're a great hockey team."
Q: Since you have been on two other teams that made it this far, what can you tell your teammates about dealing with the expectations or pressure that come with it?
"I don't think we should even be thinking about that. Why? We have to win four games. That's what we have to think about. It doesn't matter who's the underdog and who's favored. It doesn't matter. Don't even think about it."