Friday, June 5, 2009

Getting over Hossa

Let me take you back to the trade deadline of the 2007-08 NHL season. The Pittsburgh Penguins were well on their way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they knew they needed a winger for Sidney Crosby to pass to. A winger who could put the puck in the net. So, they turned to the struggling Atlanta Thrashers who were looking to unload Marian Hossa in the final year of his contract. Pittsburgh traded a few of their younger role players for the Slovakian superstar and it was a match made in Heaven. Pittsburgh steamrolled their way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they ran into the brick wall that was the Red Wings. Now, with the season over, it was time for free agents like Hossa to make decisions. He was given long term offers to play in Pittsburgh and Edmonton. Pittsburgh offered him around $7 million every year for around 7 years and Edmonton offered him $9 million a year for even longer. I honestly never imagined he'd sign with Detroit because I didn't hear any talks about him being offered anything from the Wings. All the talk was, "Will he take the money in Edmonton, or will he take a pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh..." Then came the free agency signings. The first day, nothing significant happened. Still a lot of rumors about who will go where and for how much, but nothing was certain. The next morning I logged onto the net to see if the Wings had resigned their few free agents that were in question still when my jaw hit the floor. "Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings Sign Marian Hossa." I remember pounding my fists on my desk and laughing out loud about our good fortune. It didn't take long to get the impression that the Pens fans took it very hard. Quotes like, "I feel like I just caught my GF cheating with my worst enemy..." were abound. So, a player who played about 20 games for your team is on the same level as your girlfriend? Get a life, maybe? Penguins blogs were littered with anti-Hossa articles that really sounded like a scorn lover aka "psycho chick with an umbrella trying to break his car windows"

"It wasn't so much that he left, it was HOW he left..." are you kidding me?

"It's ok, we signed Satan. He's just as good..." (Sha-tan, not... you know...) Rebound relationship maybe? Satan is no where near as good as Hossa. Even in Satan's "prime" he was no Hossa, but it sure was fun to read all the denial. Hossa wore #18 in Pittsburgh but 18 was taken already in Detroit so he took 81. Satan took 81 in Pittsburgh and it really added to the whole "Hossa replacement".

The Penguins season was all but over until they fired their coach and hired Dan Bylsma (Grand Haven, MI native!). Once they finally got some direction behind the bench, they took off. Fast forward now and it's Detroit and Pittsburgh in the Finals again and the media is all over Hossa. I don't blame the media but what I still can't believe is the Pens bandwag... (sorry) loyal fans still all over how they hate Hossa.

Any idea how much this jersey, that this guy will probably never actually wear, costs? $185 before shipping. Obsess much?

How much of a hater do you think this loser was when Hossa was playing for them?

And this came from the Pittsburgh Hossa fan page. HUGE fans of Hossa, eh?

Easy for me to say, right? He came to my team. But let's not forget the times the Wings have had someone move on to "greener" pastures. Here's my top 5 Wings moving on moments and how the fans handled it:

5. Bob Probert dropping the puck for game 4 against the Blackhawks in Chicago. He played for both teams but his better years were with Detroit. It was in Chicago, but the media made a big deal of it as if he had chosen his favorite team and turned his back on the Wings. I didn't see it that way and most of my fellow Wings fans brushed it off. Odds are, he was paid to do it. We won that game anyways.

4. Shanahan to the Rangers. After losing the first round to the Oilers and having Yzerman retire, I was not in the mood to read, "Shanahan signs with Rangers." Later finding out that he was offered the same amount of money and years to stay in Detroit, I was kinda pissed. A few days later, he said that he left because he was at the end of his career and wanted to make room in the Wings roster for younger players, and he likes New York. So in the end, I was happy to know he did it for himself and the team. No one in Detroit boos him.

3. Lapointe to Boston. Pretty much wanted to get paid since he had won 2 cups with Detroit and Boston had the money he wanted. Again, never heard anything bad said about him after he left.

2. McCarty to the Flames. That wasn't his fault at all. He wanted to stay but Calgary picked him up. I put it at #2 because of the reaction of the Wings fans the first time he came back for a game against the Wings, the crowd cheered everything he did as if he was still a Red Wing. Now that's class.

1. Fedorov to Anaheim. At the time, Anaheim sucked and Sergei wanted to be the star of a team. As in, the ONLY star since he had to share billboard space with Yzerman, Shanahan and the rest... I still like him for the effort he put forth in the cups he won with the team, but he does get booed sometimes in Detroit. Other than that, I can't think of a Red Wing who left that has been booed. ESP one that only played 20 games for us. lol

So how does Pittsburgh get over their broken hearts? I suggest they take a page from one of their very own. I have had the pleasure to meet some great hockey fans on both sides of the coin on various threads. One of the best statements I have read about the issue was made by m_mckinley:
"The whole make Hossa feel dumb about leaving this is ridiculous...the Pens would not have been in the spot they are if they signed him...we'd have had 3 players and probably would've dealt Staal. Hossa knew that we'd be very limited in our ability to add other pieces by signing him. He made the best decision for himself and owed us nothing. In the end his decision made both teams better...their should be no ill-will toward him. Period"

If that doesn't work, I suggest trying to be like Red Wings fans: When things are bad, don't let yourself get too low. When things are good, don't get yourself to high up there cuz the fall hurts worse. Remember the good times you had with Hossa. Try to forget that you paid $150 for a rental players jersey. (soooo dumb) Realize that "who wouldn't want to play with Crosby?" isn't a reason for a player to sign with your team. Mostly, try cheering for your team's players rather than booing someone else's... unless it's Pronger. Hope this helps and Go Red Wings!

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