Detroit Red Wings DetroitRedWings.com presented by AT&T
2015-16 Ticket Plans Available Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App
 

 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Hossa plays part on star-studded Wings' cast

Friday, 01.9.2009 / 5:08 PM ET / News
By Larry Wigge  - NHL.com Columnist
X
Share with your Friends


Hossa plays part on star-studded Wings\' cast
He was just sitting there alone at his locker with a twinkle in his eyes and a big smile on his face, drinking in all of the excitement around him.

For Marian Hossa, the NHL's big free-agent last summer, seeing his Red Wings gain a 6-4 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Winter Classic 2009 was sort of the first big-game feeling he's had in Detroit. And even though he had 3 assists and five shots and was plus-1 for the game, Hossa is just fine without all the hype of having to be the leading man anymore.

The trio of assists in the Winter Classic gave Hossa 37 points in 37 games this season, second on the Red Wings to Pavel Datsyuk's 42 points. Those are still leading-man numbers, but Hossa is like the movie star who chooses to play a role with a great cast of characters like in "The Magnificent Seven" or "The Dirty Dozen," "Poseidon Adventure" or "Wild Bunch." It's all about blending in -- about being part of a championship group after nine seasons combined in Ottawa, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Hossa shocked the hockey world when he signed a one-year, $7.45 million contract with the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings on July 1. He could have gotten more years and more money elsewhere, but decided Detroit offered the best chance for a Stanley Cup.

Hossa is already a 300-goal scorer -- having come into this season with 299 career goals while averaging better than 33 goals during the last nine seasons. He's durable, having missed 22 games in that time span. And even if some questioned his ability to rise to the occasion in the playoffs, he more than answered any doubters about his playoff abilities last spring, with 12 goals and 26 points in 20 games. That ranked third in the NHL behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg.

"Some people say I took a gamble, and maybe I did (by signing with Detroit for just one year, instead of taking a big long-term contract somewhere else.) But this is everything I thought it would be so far. It's everything I wanted," Hossa said. "I'm 29 and the way I look at it, there are four or five years in your prime and my goal is to win the Stanley Cup. Coming to Detroit to a team that can go all the way, this is the kind of situation I've always hoped for."

General managers who have the vision of a champion truly look at building a team like it's an orchestra, where you've got a horn section, drums, violins and that leader out there directing the whole group in beautiful harmony. In Detroit, that's exactly what you have. No one player bigger than the team. And Hossa is proving that there are leading men who can also follow the group, can show the character of wanting to be different -- wanting to be part of the whole.

Hossa told me he has long admired the Red Wings' European puck-possession style, especially playing in front of a mobile, puck-moving defense, getting fed a steady diet of crisp outlet passes from Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart -- the whole cast of characters that make Detroit go.

"It's the best group in the League," Hossa said. "I had the chance to play against them last season and I know how hard it is. They are good defensively, but they can also move the puck as quick as anybody.

"More than that, I look at this as a learning curve. Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg. They've all got great experience at winning, and I'm learning from them. I know expectations are high in Detroit, but those expectations also help you to raise your game to an extremely high level, especially when you are competing with great players. So far, it's been a great ride, we're winning games and that's what's important."

Fitting in? That's an understatement, according to Lidstrom, the Wings' captain.

"He's a very skilled player with the puck, real strong skater, really quick, good at going hard to the net, but the main reason he has fit in with this group so seamlessly is because he works so hard coming back in his own end, too, stripping players from pucks, similar to what Pavel does," Lidstrom said. "We pride ourselves in being a hard-working team. I think that's where he really fits in as well."

For those who may not know all the money that this power forward with a powerful craving to win it all left on the bargaining table last July 1, that he turned down upward of $80 million for one shot at a title with the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings.

The options he had included re-signing with the Penguins, for whom he had just finished two wins short of the Cup. Pittsburgh reportedly offered to pay him $35 million over five years. The Montreal Canadiens, the Eastern Conference regular-season champs, as well as the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers also made similar lucrative multiyear offers. And get this -- the Edmonton Oilers reportedly were ready to give Hossa more than $80 million over nine seasons.

Though Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland had talked to Ritch Winter, Hossa's agent, there was little he could do because of his salary-cap numbers particularly those beyond this season trying to fit so many great players under the cap.

A few moments before the Winter Classic, Holland was talking about his team, his potential free agents for this July, which include Zetterberg, Hossa and Johan Franzen and how, in an economy where picking and unloading stocks is like rolling the dice at a casino. But in today's hockey world, it's all about now. Then, he laughed and said, "All I know, Marian Hossa paid us a big compliment by wanting to be with our team."

Red Wings goaltender Ty Conklin played in Pittsburgh with Hossa last season and said of Hossa, "He's a down-to-earth guy. A very modest guy and a hard worker. Those kind of guys fit into any locker room. For the Wings, he's been one of the top players on the ice every night."

"We knew he was good, but especially his skating and his shot stands out," said Tomas Holmstrom. "He's another weapon for us. He's got a sick shot and his first couple of strides -- he's got to be the fastest guy in the league. A great fit."

In last year's finals, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock kept seeing Hossa in the middle of the good things the Penguins did against his team. So he knows how difficult it is for opposing coaches to try to contain him.

"He's just so talented, and he works so hard," Babcock said. "He's good without the puck. When I look at him I see a guy who is so big, and so strong. That's the difference with our other skilled players ... the size. If you are trying to stop him, you've got to be asking, 'What are we going to do with him?' "

The conflict, the drama, the obstacle for Hossa and the Red Wings is, of course, there are no guarantees -- even in Detroit.

But this story is bottom-lined by the commitment from a star player, who some skeptics considered a selfish individual star, to finally get some team rewards, something that hasn't happened for Marian since he was playing junior hockey in Portland and won the Memorial Cup when he was 17.

"You miss that feeling and you want to get it back," Hossa said very seriously. "At first I thought winning was easy. You just do it. But ..."

The seriousness of the conversation turned that twinkle back in Marian's eyes as he continued his thought saying wistfully, "I can imagine going all the way -- that would be something amazing. I was really close last year and hopefully I'll get a chance to win it all this year. This is the most experienced team I've ever been on. I know there are no guarantees, but I have a great feeling about this team."

One more look around the winning locker room. One more smile before Marian Hossa walked away.

A Productive Tip

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was looking to fill up his gas tank instead of his team's roster when his cell phone rang.

Agent Ritch Winter was on the other end, with Marian Hossa sitting close by.

"It's funny, I'll never forget pulling into a Mobil station to get gas," Holland said. "The phone rang. It was Marian's agent and he had Marian on the other end of the line. He asked, 'Do you think you could fit Marian on to your team on a one-year deal?'

"We all know he's one of the premier power forwards in the game, capable of scoring 30, 40, 50 goals. To say I was caught off-guard is the understatement of the year. I was shocked, because I heard all the rumors of the millions of dollars other teams were offering on long-term contracts. That little trip to the gas station clearly told me we were getting a player who didn't care about dollars. All he wanted to do is win."

The commitment to keeping this championship bunch together -- with the primary scoring, secondary scoring and production from all over the roster -- is what put Detroit over Pittsburgh's roster, which was devastated in free agency. In fact, it's the battle from within, their trust in one another and work ethic, that will lead them to succeed again, that attracted Hossa to the Red Wings.

"The competition we have is a big motivation for a lot of guys," Lidstrom said. "You have to be sharp all the time. Guys in here are fighting for minutes."

And Hossa decided it was the only place to be.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

DetroitRedWings.com is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and DetroitRedWings.com are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 
Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map