This certainly wasn't what Marian Hossa signed up for.
The biggest name on the free-agent market last July, he had two choices – take the big bucks and long-term contract being offered by the Pittsburgh Penguins, or go with the one-year deal the Red Wings placed on the table.
After careful consideration, Hossa decided the Red Wings gave him the best chance at winning the Stanley Cup. He did something as rare in sports as winning a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup finals on the road -- he made winning a higher priority than the almighty dollar.
Proving that life isn't fair, Hossa's altruistic actions didn't change a thing. For the second-straight season, he was forced to watch the opposition celebrate with the Cup on his home ice, only this time it was the same Penguins team he fell short with last season.
Despite the heartbreaking loss that was dripping with irony, Hossa refused to ponder the "what ifs" following Friday night's 2-1 loss in Game 7.
That's life," Hossa said about seeing his former team crowned as champions. "I still had a great year in this organization with great guys, great people around. It could go both ways, one goal could've made a difference. Sometimes that's life.
"I don't regret it. It could be different circumstances if I signed with Pittsburgh. They probably would've signed some other players and been a different team. We could sit here for hours discussing this. It could've been a different team, so I don't regret it."
Hossa was nearly a point-per-game player in the regular season, but his production took a nose-dive during the postseason. In 23 games, the winger only managed 6 goals and 9 assists. Hossa had just 4 goals in the final three rounds of the postseason and none in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Whether you like it or not, its lots of pressure and you learn when pressure is on," Hossa said about his lack of production. "You learn how to handle it, it squeezing you. It was pretty tough one. I tried to battle, battle hard. I couldn't get it done."
Hossa was part of some good scoring chances in Game 7, but nothing found the back of the net. In the first period, he led a rush across the Penguins' blue line. After backing up the defense, he left the puck for Valtteri Filppula
, who was denied by Marc-Andre Fleury.Jonathan Ericsson
cut the Penguins' lead to 2-1 with six minutes left, giving Detroit life. Hossa and his teammates had several glorious chances to get the game tied, only to see Fleury and a crossbar deny the Red Wings.
Kirk Maltby came to the defense of Hossa, pointing out that while the spotlight was on the 30-year-old star during this series, it came down to the team not getting the job done, not one individual.
"I'm sure he's not real happy," Maltby said. "Everyone feels extremely bad in here. There's always the story lines that get made up going in to the playoff runs – do it for this guy, do it for that guy. But it's a group effort in here and everyone wants to win for each other whether you've won one or you won four or you haven't won one at all. I feel bad for everyone in here.
"It's not like he's playing poorly. It's not like he's not trying. He won't make any excuses and I'm not going to make any for anybody. We as a collective group in here had opportunities. Just because some guys are looked to score and others aren't doesn't mean it's any one guy's fault. We as a group in here collective win this game and win this series."
Some of Hossa's former teammates took time between spraying down the Joe Louis Arena ice with champagne to offer their sympathies.
"He's a great guy. I have nothing but respect for him," Penguins defenseman Hal Gill said. "Obviously we wanted him to stay in Pitt, but that's the way it works. It's a crazy game."
"I feel his pain, and it's disappointing for him," Rob Scuderi said, "but it's nice that we got the win."
Hossa denied rumors that he has a long-term deal in place to stay in Detroit. With Henrik Zetterberg
and Johan Franzen
locked up long-term, it's possible that Friday night will be Hossa's last game with the Red Wings.
"I think Marian had a great year," Zetterberg said. "He was an unbelievable guy on and off the ice. He worked hard all year long and it's been a pleasure to play with him."
Hossa had the best of intentions entering the 2008-09 season, but he was against left to ponder how close he was to raising to Lord Stanley's Cup for a second season in a row.
"That's how close it is, that's how close this series was, sometimes by inches," Hossa said. "Sometimes you can get lucky, but we just didn't score."