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Hossa to Hockeytown

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Marian Hossa had reason to celebrate after he signed a one-year free agency contract Wednesday with the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. Hossa Video Highlights
DETROIT – Ken Holland often talks about success requiring hard work and how it never comes easy.

Unrestricted fre agent Marian Hossa seemingly bought into that philosophy on Wednesday when he signed a one-year contract, thus securing the Red Wings’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champions next spring.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” Holland told “He’s a premiere power forward. Heading into the off-season, he was on our wish list, but to think in reality that we would get a shot at him given our commitments heading into the ’08-09 season -- we really wanted to keep a lot of our team together -- but in the end Marian made it happen by agreeing to come on a one-year deal.”

Hossa, 29, helped the Pittsburgh Penguins reach the 2008 Stanley Cup finals, where they eventually lost to the Red Wings in six games. He had three goals and four assists in the Cup finals.

It’s believed that the Edmonton Oilers were also suitors in the Hossa sweepstakes, with a reported offer of as much as $9 million for the Czechoslovakian star. He indicated that he did not have discussions with the Pens about a one-year deal.

Still the decision to turndown a bigger pay day elsewhere was difficult, Hossa said, but after 10 seasons in the league, his priorities have changed.

“I wanted the best chance to win the Stanley Cup and I feel like Detroit is the team,” Hossa said during a teleconference Wednesday afternoon. “I know I could get more money somewhere else, but the thing that I was looking for for myself was to win the Stanley Cup.

“It wasn’t easy to throw that much money away, but I know I made the right decision. I truly believe that I made the right decision.”

It’s extremely difficult, especially in the new cap world, to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. The last team to do so was Detroit in 1997 and ’98. But Holland believes Hossa’s desire and hunger to win can be a driving force, similar to what the team witnessed with veteran forward Dallas Drake.

“I really think that Dallas Drake was a major factor in us winning the Stanley Cup,” Holland said. “Obviously, with his play on the ice, but for Dallas, he made a lot of sacrifices to want to come here to give himself an opportunity. When we got close, I thought a lot of our players played for Dallas.
I know I could get more money somewhere else, but the thing that I was looking for for myself was to win the Stanley Cup. - Newest Red Wings forward Marian Hossa

“Certainly when you bring in a guy like Marian Hossa, who again has tremendous financial opportunities, and securing elsewhere and really has picked our team as the team that gives him the best chance to win a Stanley Cup, I think it will be tremendous motivation for our team heading into the year.”

Over the years, Holland has built a pretty solid relationship with Hossa’s agent Ritch Winter, of Edmonton, who also represents Dominik Hasek. But Holland was still shocked by the call he got Wednesday morning.

“I was at the Mobil station to get gas when the phone rang and it was Rich,” Holland said. “I was caught way off guard. Shocked obviously was my initial reaction.

“Over the course of yesterday, Rich and Marian fielded a lot of offers that were substantial in relation to what we could offer. I got a call this morning from Rich telling me that Marian was very, very interested in being a Red Wing.”

Hossa’s signing should squelch the past scrutinizing in the media that the Wings received during the regular-season for a lack of secondary scoring. That issue was basically put to rest with the Stanley Cup last month, but making a big splash in the free agency pool for a top-notch power forward is huge.

Marian Hossa talks with Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals last month. The two are now Detroit teammates. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Often during the regular-season, the Wings were criticized for relying too much on their top line of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom to score. Landing Hossa, who has scored 299 goals and 349 assists with a plus-85 rating in 701 career games, should silence that issue.

The Penguins acquired Hossa and Pascal Dupuis at the February trade deadline from Atlanta for three young stars -- Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and Angelo Esposito, and a 2008 first-round pick (Daultan Leveille, 29th overall).

Dupuis signed a three-year contract worth more than $4 million to stay in Pittsburgh.

In the Pens’ march to the Cup finals, Hossa put to rest the notion that he’s a better regular-season performer, whose productivity falls off once the playoffs roll around. He led the Pens in scoring with 12 goals, and was second to Sidney Crosby in assists with 14.

In Atlanta’s 5-1 win over the Red Wings on Jan. 15, Hossa wrecked havoc, recording his seventh career hat trick before the game was half old.

A first-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in 1997, Hossa said he’s harbored the opportunity to play for the Red Wings for some time.

“When you look at hockey on the TV it’s always the Red Wings or Pittsburgh playing,” he said. “You’re always going to pay attention because it’s attractive hockey, it’s a lot of offense and a lot of great players. I want to play that way. I liked playing like that in Pittsburgh, and when I look at Detroit, it’s a similar style. But it’s all about winning and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Besides seeing the organization from afar as an opponent, Hossa received some insight from his friend, Red Wings forward Tomas Kopecky.

“I’ve heard a lot about things there from my friend,” Hossa said. “I was in contact with him during the year, so we talked, and it’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to it.”

Hossa’s deal with the Red Wings continues a free agency exodus from the Penguins, who also lost forwards Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, Adam Hall, and back-up goalie Ty Conklin, who on Tuesday also signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings.

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