Marian Hossa is smitten with his luck, even if he's the one that created it by signing a 1-year contract with the Stanley Cup champions.
"It's almost like I've come to an All-Star team that plays in Detroit with so many veterans, future Hall of Famers, all the hockey stars here," Hossa told NHL.com. "It's an unbelievable situation."
We're all happy things have started well. (Marian)'s a good all-around player. He competes hard both offensively and defensively. He would fit in well with any team, but with (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Nicklas) Lidstrom, these are players that are good at both ends of the rink and compete hard. He has just fit in really well. - Detroit VP Steve Yzerman
A year ago, Hossa was playing a starring role alongside Ilya Kovalchuk
with the Atlanta Thrashers
. Less than 6 months ago, he was competing for the Stanley Cup alongside Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin
with the Pittsburgh Penguins
No matter where he's gone, though, Hossa has never been the main attraction. But Hossa is playing like one in Detroit and it hasn't gone unnoticed by the higher ups in one of the NHL's top franchises.
He leads the Red Wings with 17 points on 8 goals and 9 assists through 13 games heading into Tuesday night's showdown at Joe Louis Arena against his former team, the Penguins, in a rematch of last season's Stanley Cup Final (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2).
Detroit won that entertaining Final in 6 games.
"We're all happy things have started well," Red Wings legend and current front-office man Steve Yzerman told NHL.com. "He's a good all-around player. He competes hard both offensively and defensively. He would fit in well with any team, but with (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Nicklas) Lidstrom, these are players that are good at both ends of the rink and compete hard. He has just fit in really well."
Even though he's only on a 1-year deal, Hossa said he has established himself in Detroit. He has a comfortable living arrangement that allows him to focus solely on hockey, which is exactly why he decided to join the Red Wings in the first place.
"There are no problems right now and hockey-wise it's been good," Hossa said. "I think it's all set that way and I can just focus on hockey now. That's why I signed here. My focus is just on the hockey. My goal is to go all the way. That's why I am here."
Hossa admitted it took him the entire training camp and preseason schedule to get accustomed to being a Detroit Red Wing and playing in coach Mike Babcock's style. He has since found a home on Pavel Datsyuk's
right side with Tomas Holmstrom
on the left and the line has been, as one would expect, one of the best in the NHL. Combined, the line has produced 40 points and boasts a plus-21 rating.
"When you go on the ice you don't like to think you just like to play, and that was the transition I was in," Hossa said. "I was trying to think about what to do and where to go to be in the right spot.
"When the regular season started, I stopped thinking and started playing my game. It was getting better and better, and the more games we had with Pav and Holmer made the transition even smoother."
Hossa wouldn't make a comparison between Crosby and Datsyuk because of their differing styles. Both, though, have helped Hossa shine. He had 26 points in 20 playoff games last season.
"Obviously they are the top forwards in the world, the top centermen in the world, but that's all that is comparable," Hossa said. "They play different styles. Sid is a stronger skater and Pav likes to slow down the game and can take players on him before passing the puck. Both guys have something special."
The difference in mentality between the Red Wings and Penguins also amazes Hossa. He has great memories of playing in Pittsburgh because it was a team energized by youth. Meanwhile, the experience and maturity of the Red Wings has made him a believer, too.
"I can learn from lots of these guys (in Detroit) and it's all new because I've never been in this position being on such an experienced team," Hossa said. "On the other hand, it was really exciting to be on a team with two young superstars in Pittsburgh.
"The things they do with the puck, I wouldn't say it's careless, but they just play and have fun with the other team like little kids. You don't see that in every team. That's what Pittsburgh has in those two top guys. They play like it's ball hockey, like when I used to play outside."
Even though it's a long way off, Hossa knows the obvious question of will he re-sign with Detroit or head into free agency will become a topic of conversation yet again as the season progresses. He's eligible to sign a long-term contract with the Wings after Jan. 1, but said he hasn't given any thought to it mainly because he's happy with what he's got right now.
"Actually, I really never thought about what will happen because my focus is on the games, not what will happen after them," Hossa said. "There are so many players now on the last year of the contract. It depends on the salary cap, whether it goes high or low. Those are all question marks and we'll save them for the future."
One thing is for certain: You can bet he's not going to be tossed out by the Red Wings as trade bait the way he was last winter by the Thrashers.
"To split up Zetterberg and Datysuk and still have two pretty strong lines, at least for now, it shows the kind of addition he's been," Yzerman said. "He can play in all situations and play well."Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.