June 09, 2009

Rooting for Marian Hossa

Weird, eh? Trust me, I know. But read me out.

In my defence, the Ottawa Senators' stank Hossa used to be afflicted with has worn off. He was last a Senator way back in 2004; a long time ago, when even the Maple Leafs were good. Five years later, I want Hossa to win the Stanley Cup. With the Detroit Red Wings. In Pittsburgh.

I never thought the day would come, but I respect Marian Hossa. I respect the decision he made last summer to sign with the the Detroit Red Wings. He made it for the right reason: to win the Stanley Cup. And in choosing Detroit over the Penguins, Hossa's one win from vindication.

Every hockey player is one game, one shift, and one injury away from having his career ended. Hossa left a ton of guaranteed money, and years, on the table to chase his dream.

Now don't get me wrong; Hossa got paid. He made just under $7.5 million this season. But he could have banked $9 million a year in Edmonton, or signed a multi-year deal with Pittsburgh estimated at about $50 million. And I can't help but admire that. For some reason, I don't want Hossa's decision to leave Pittsburgh and sign with Detroit to come back and haunt him.

Most of all, I appreciate Hossa's desire to win. If Mats Sundin truly wanted to win a Stanley Cup, he would have signed with the Red Wings last July (Detroit wanted him), or called Ken Holland mid-season and agreed to play for the league minimum. Instead, by signing with Vancouver, Sundin chose the route he took in Toronto: get paid, and play for a team with not the best shot, but a shot.

I believe Mats wanted it. Bad. Just not enough. Not as bad as Hossa wants it.

His Ottawa tenure a thing of the past, I'm hoping Hossa is high on Brian Burke's July 1 to-do list. Marian's a star; thirty-years-old, a proven 40-goal man, and only two seasons removed from a 100-point campaign with Atlanta. And, possibly as early as tonight, a Stanley Cup winner.

UPDATE: Read this post from James Mirtle. It's hard to win the Stanley Cup (understatement of the year). I'm not going to rip Hossa for giving himself the best shot to do so. 


JaredFromLondon said...

you are a strange strange man

Johnny G said...

I'm not sure he is a good fit with the Leafs.

I see Hossa being more of a compliment player as oppose to Front Line Star. I think he does better when the spotlight focuses on the others around him. Now granted I have no proof to back this up at all and I am basically just blowing smoke but meh.

Then again... The Leafs don't really have much of anything so...

Junior said...

I can't do it. I can't root for him. Not after the Brian Berard incident. Don't get me wrong; I don't believe Hossa intended to even strike Berard, much less cost him his eyesight. It was an accident, pure and simple, but I can't forget it.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

Instead, by signing with Vancouver, Sundin chose the route he took in Toronto: get paid, and play for a team with not the best shot, but a shot.

Holy shit. I am pretty sure that this is the first time that you have admitted that Sundin followed the dollar signs to Vancouver.

Hossa's a different case and so I don't care if he wins. Fuck him and all that but it's no skin off of my back.

Down Goes Brown said...

Sorry. No dice. He's still the guy who carved out Bryan Berard's eye.

eyebleaf said...

@ Jared: I am strange. But you love me.

@ Johnny: Anyone who can score 40 goals and put up 80 points is a good enough fit for the Leafs for me. Him and Grabbo would look pretty good together, no?

@ PPP: I'll defend Sundin's decision to sign with VanCity all day, everyday but, man, he would have been wise to sign with Detroit. It would have proven his desire to get that ring. Vancouver had a good shot, but Detroit are the champs for a reason.

@ Junior & DGB: Did you guys ever watch the movie Bulletproof, with Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans? I hope so. If you didn't, Sandler's character shot Wayans, his best friend, in the face, by accident. And he made sure throughout the movie to remind that it was, indeed, an accident. When I think of the Berard and Hossa incident, I think of two things: 1) Sandler screaming "ACCIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11" at the top of his lungs to Wayans in Bulletproof, and 2) Berard bolting out of town the first chance he got.

Down Goes Brown said...

It was an accident. But it wasn't an "accident" in the sense of "wrong place, wrong time, could have happened to anyone". It was more of an "accident" in the sense of "why the hell are you swinging your stick like a golf club when the puck isn't anywhere near you, you idiot, you could blind somebody and oops you just did".

Magnet-Crotch said...

How is jumping ship to a better team admirable? Winning the Stanley Cup is about sticking with your teammates through thick and thin in pursuit of triumph. It has nothing to do with riding the coattails of a good team to get your name on the cup. I can't believe anyone would admire that.

eyebleaf said...

@ DGB: ACCIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

@ Magnet-Crotch: Great screen name, first of all. Second of all, Hossa's been with Detroit all year. Scoring 40 goals and 71 points is not exactly riding anybody's coattails. Would it have been more admirable had he won a Cup as a rental in Pittsburgh? He's been there all year, and he's a big part of a (soon to be) Stanley Cup winner. Facing the Pens in the final is clearly not easy for him, as he's struggled to put up the points, but the Wings know how badly he wants it, and I think they want to get it for him.

Magnet-Crotch said...

That is true, he is contributing. But last year the Wings won the cup without him, and this is essentially the same team as last year. You are right though, he has put up numbers.

But the situation reminds me of kickball in gym class. Remember the kid that would switch teams in the middle of a game because his team was losing? That's Hossa. He chose the team that was already the best, instead of making a commitment to a team and sticking with it. One year is not a commitment. Sure he may win...but just because you're on the winning team doesn't mean you deserve respect.

Lori said...

Hossa wanted to win the Stanley Cup so he decided to sign with a team that not only won the Cup with out him, they won it playing against him. Wow. What a respectful thing to do. And this was after making statements about wanting to play in pittsburgh and by doing so costing us to hold out precious time and money in the free agency scramble. I agree with The Pensblog that I'm glad we didn't re-sign in retrospect. We wouldn't have traded for players to give our team the chemistry it has and like they said, the salary cap outlook would be horrendous. But still. I don't have respect for how he handled himself. I respect players that are willing to make investments in teams and that put their love for other aspects of the game above the ultimate shiny prize.

But whatever. That's just my two cents.

eyebleaf said...

@ Magnet: I appreciate the kickball analogy, but have a hard time making the comparison. Hossa made a commitment to himself that, as a free agent, he'd do whatever it took to win a Stanley Cup. If that meant going to the team that had just beaten him, so be it. He made the decision because he thought Detroit would give him the best chance. And, well, he's right. And I respect that.

@ Lori: It doesn't matter that Detroit won it playing against him. He was a rental player. He knew he was going to hit the market. When he made the decision to sign with Detroit, he was no longer a Penguin. He was a free agent. He was choosing from all 30 teams, and he picked the best one.

As for the statements about wanting to play in Pittsburgh and the free agency scramble, we know what that's like in Toronto. It's fucking annoying. But he signed with Detroit on the second day of free agency. Pittsburgh had a backup plan: they signed Fedotenko and Satan a day later (July 3), and Matt Cooke two days after that. And you're right, in the end, it did work out better for Pittsburgh salary wise.

I differ in the sense that I respect players who put the ultimate shiny prize above all else. Why else do hockey players play the game? To win the Stanley Cup. No player makes an investment in a team. Sure, he'll sign there, he'll get paid, he'll be active in the community, and a day later he's traded away. There's no loyalty, on either end. I'd rather have a guy who wants nothing more, who's willing to leave money on the table, to win the Stanley Cup.

Junior said...

Eye, as I think was pointed out over at Pension Plan Puppets, Berard didn't really "dump" the Leafs. He had to officially retire to claim the insurance money he was due (and he had to do that, because at the time, nobody thought he would ever play again). When the notion of Berard playing again was floated, the Leafs were interested but Berard didn't want to essentially return to the scene of the accident - understandable.

Anyway, accident or no, I can't forget it. I was predisposed to like the guy before that incident too, I remember when his junior teammates brought him on to the ice after winning the Memorial Cup (on a chair, if I remember correctly) because Hossa had injured his knee earlier in the tournament; he seemed likable enough and genuinely liked by his teammates. But I can't forget what happened.

SL said...

I respect everything you said above, it was put very well. I just feel the exact opposite of the Hossa stuff. Shouldn't there be some desire in him to want to go back to the Final and beat the team that he lost to a year prior? I hate him, it's irrational, but I hate him.

Hossa said...

I agree, there is a traitorist aspect to Hossa jumping ship, to the team, that he just lost to in the finals. For that reason alone, I'm cheering against him. I lose (not gain) respect when someone trys to latch on to a winner and take the easy way.

eyebleaf said...

@ SL: As Leafs fans, hating Hossa will never be irrational.

@ Hossa: If teams can trade players, Hossa can pick the team of his choice without being labeled a "traitor." He was a Penguin for two months, and he's jumping ship b/c he's finally a free agent? Riiiiiight.

And you're sorely mistaken if you think there is an "easy way" to win the Cup. He didn't "latch on" to a winner. Dude scored 40 goals for the Wings. And he's got as many points as Crosby does in the final. It's hard to win a Cup, it's even harder to win two in a more, making Hossa's decision even more brilliant.

Go Wings. Go Hossa.

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