If you can’t beat ’em – sign a one-year, $7.4-million contract and – join ’em.
That appears to be Marian Hossa’s logic as the unrestricted free agent sniper agreed to a surprising one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Despite being a resident of the Eastern Conference for his entire NHL career, Hossa is familiar with the Wings, having faced them in the Stanley Cup final as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
At first blush, it looks like Hossa decided to postpone signing a massive, multi-year offer (sorry, Edmonton fans) in favor of a short (and still very rich) deal that comes with the added bonus of a legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup.
If that’s the case, it’s hard to knock Hossa for his choice. He came close to glory this season and figures he’ll get another crack in 2008-09 as part of the vaunted Red Wings. No NHL team has won back-to-back championships since the Wings did it in 1997 and ’98, but Detroit is as close as it gets to a sure thing in today’s NHL.
At the same time, the whole situation does seem a bit odd. When a player jumps from the losing Cup finalist over to the team that won the Cup…well, it just doesn’t sit right. Especially when it looked like the Penguins might convince Hossa to stick around for another year; if he was going to sign a short-term deal with anyone, you’d think it would have been Pittsburgh.
Surely playing with Sidney Crosby for a whole year and Evgeni Malkin, too, would only help Hossa’s case a year from now. It’s not too difficult to envision Hossa closing in on 60 goals with Crosby or Malkin as his centers/power play partners-in-crime. Then again, it’s not too difficult to envision Hossa doing the same thing while playing with Pavel Datsyuk and/or Henrik Zetterberg.
Meanwhile, the rich get richer as Detroit adds another bona fide star. The Wings are even a couple million dollars under the salary cap, although they do need to re-sign restricted free agent Valtteri Filppula.
Bigger decisions loom in the summer of 2009, when Hossa, Zetterberg and supporting forwards Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky will all be unrestricted.
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