Big Lead Sports Bar

8/06/2008

THE LEGACY OF...MARIAN HOSSA

Welcome to the second installment of "The Legacy Of...", the series in which we will discuss the legacies of Pittsburgh athletes who moved on to greener pastures.

I'll give you the facts, including details on the player's acquisition, his Pittsburgh career with all of the highs and lows, and the time when he moves on. After that, you can vote on his legacy and discuss it at greater length in the comments section.
Today's subject, like most of the subjects in this series, is a magnet for controversy: former Penguin Marian Hossa.

ACQUISITION

The 6'1", 210-pound right winger was drafted 12th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1997 draft, playing eight seasons north of the border.

Hossa signed a three-year, $18 million contract on August 23, 2005, and was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers later that afternoon in exchange for talented yet troubled winger Dany Heatley.

During his third season with Atlanta, Hossa was dealt by the Thrashers to Pittsburgh (along with Pascal Dupuis) on February 26, 2008, in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, 2007 1st-round pick Angelo Esposito, and the Penguins' 2008 1st-round pick.
Hossa was clearly the centerpiece of the Penguins' trade deadline acquisitions and was part of one of the highest-profile trades in team history. Prior to his time in Pittsburgh, Hossa had notched 296 goals and 342 points in his NHL career with Ottawa and Atlanta.
Upon his arrival to the Burgh, this photo of Hossa and a female friend was dug up and run on blogs approximately 1.8 million times during the next four months. OK, I made that 1.8 million number up. It was closer to 1.9 million.

The trade was controversial on several levels. Some considered the price too high and the trade too risky, pointing to Hossa's unspectacular playoff performances in past years. Others disliked the loss of popular locker-room guys like Christensen and Armstrong, both fan favorites. Another faction of Penguin fans endorsed the roll-of-the-dice, which was a bold move by both the front office and the ownership. For Pittsburgh fans used to trade deadlines spent watching our teams give away top players, this was a welcome change.

CAREER IN PITTSBURGH
Hossa's time as a Penguin got off to an ominous start, as he sprained his MCL in his Penguins debut on February 28. He would not return until a March 16 grudge match with Philadelphia that turned out to be a rousing 7-1 Penguins victory. Hossa scored a goal and added an assist in his Mellon Arena debut, endearing himself to the home fans in the process.
Hossa ended the Penguin portion of his 2007-08 regular season with three goals and seven assists in 12 games, his high point output a three-assist performance in a 7-1 win against the Devils on March 22. It was on to the playoffs, where his presence would truly determine whether Ray Shero's trade was a good move or one the Penguins would regret.
In the playoff opener, a 4-0 victory against Ottawa, Hossa was held goal-less on seven shots. At the time, I said, "looked like there was a lid on the goal for him."
Following Game Two, a two-assist performance in another Penguins victory, Hossa was awarded FSN's Player of the Game honors for his goal & assist combo in a 4-1 Game Three win that put the Penguins within one win of an eventual sweep. Hossa ended the first round with one goal and four assists on 15 shots.

It was on to Round Two against Jaromir Jagr and the New York Rangers. After somewhat of a slow start in the first two games (both Penguin victories, by the way), Hossa way publicly called out by Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook with his "Hossa needs to start scoring" story. Cook suggested that despite their 6-0 record in the playoffs to that point, Coach Michel Therrien should have replaced Hossa with Petr Sykora on the top power play unit.
Hossa must've been a PG reader, as he answered Cook's challenge with a goal and assist performance in the next game, a 5-3 win over the Rangers. He added two goals, including an overtime, series-ender, in the clinching 3-2 victory; after two rounds and nine games, Hossa stood at five goals and five assists on 44 shots. More importantly, he aroused Casey Hampton enough to get out of his front-row seat.
Hossa got off to a quick start in the Conference Finals against Philadelphia, with a two-assist Game One and a power play goal in Game Two.

Hossa would notch two more goals in a 4-1 victory against the Flyers in Game Three, silencing 19,965 Flyers fans in the process. It was a beautiful sight.

Hossa would save his best statistical game of the playoffs for the May 18, 6-0 blowout that would send Philadelphia to their inevitable offseason golf matches. His one goal, three-assist game would give the alleged shrinking playoff performer nine goals and 10 assists through three rounds of the tournament. Suddenly, Hossa was called "the perfect wingman for Sidney Crosby," while simultaneously being praised by SI.

It was on to the Stanley Cup, hockey's biggest stage for one of its biggest free agents.

Like every other player on the Penguins' roster, Hossa was held scoreless in Game One and Game Two, as the Pens dug quite the formidable 0-2 hole. He found his way onto the ledger with two assists in an amazing Game Three 3-2 home victory in front of a red-clad Mark Madden. And he would score the only Pittsburgh goal in the 2-1 Game Four defeat.

With the Penguins just 35 seconds from elimination, Hossa set up Maxime Talbot for "The Goal I" in Game Five, the Instant Classic later won by Petr Sykora's "The Goal II" about ten hours later. And in the Game Six finale, despite scoring and assisting on the two Penguin goals, he will probably be remembered for the one that didn't go in with just seconds left.

With the season over, Hossa was free to pursue offers from all NHL teams. And with promises that he would play for a better team at a discounted rate, Pittsburghers kept up hope.
In June, Please Stay Hossa was introduced to the world, with the best of intentions. It was one of a number of grassroots attempts at getting the talented winger to reconsider a few more years in the land of Iron City and pierogis.

THE END IN PITTSBURGH

Once free agency was underway, Hossa floored even his agent by turning away a 7-year, $49 million dollar deal from the Penguins and a reported $70-$80 million deal from Edmonton in order to sign a one-year, $7.4 million deal with Detroit on July 2.

"I've said before, I want to have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup and I feel like Detroit is the team. It wasn't an easy decision. I knew I could have gotten more money somewhere else but I wanted the best chance to win the Stanley Cup and Detroit is the best destination," Hossa said in a conference call.

Let those be motivational words for Sidney Crosby and the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins, noted ESPN 1250's Jim Colony at the time.

POST-PITTSBURGH CAREER

Not surprisingly, reaction to Hossa's signing with Detroit was not well-received in Pittsburgh. A few days after the move, Kiss 96 FM had video of Hossa jersey burnings, for those Yinzers who made the ultimate leap of faith and purchased a pricey sweater of the pending UFA.

More recently, the PG's Bob Smizik said that "'Knuckleheads' can't wait to boo 'traitor' Hossa," in an article comparing Pittsburgh (unfavorably) to Philadelphia. Ouch.

YOUR TURN

A poll gauging your memories of Marian Hossa should be rather spirited. At this point, the discussion is in your hands. Do you have mostly good or mostly bad memories of Marian Hossa as a Penguin? We're putting it to a poll, and there's no wiggle room: it's either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. What wins out: 12 goals and 14 assists in a Cup run, or the spurning of a $49 million offer to join what he thinks is a superior Detroit team?




Related:

The Legacy Of...Kordell Stewart


--
http://www.mondesishouse.com

Pittsburgh sports with a heavy dose of sarcasm! Updated daily, with coverage of the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt, and much more!

7 comments:

Jimmy The Freak said...

It is a little to fresh to judge accurately. Maybe in a year or two. You can't really judge the legacy in terms of the effect on the team when the player moved on.

Did him moving on result in someone getting a chance to take that next step and produce? Or did he leave the team with an unfillable hole that ruined their chances to win a championship in the forseeable future?

To soon to tell.

Justin said...

While I'll never understand why he left for a 1 year deal when he could have had the best of both worlds here ($$ and more than a few great chances to get a cup), I just don't think the Pens would have gone on that run without him. But in any case, this is still the best team in the East without Hossa, so I'm not crying over his departure.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Did the equipment manager stitch the back of Sidney's jersey from the knife wound yet?

I'll say it again. There is nothing better than a motivated Sidnery Crosby.

ManBearPig said...

Jagoff

TASJ7045 said...

This "Legacy of..." is too early, especially with all the great other athletes that can be done. But its never a bad time to see the pics of Hossa's lady friend.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Talented player who got some really bad advice from his agent.

Black&Gold Girl said...

I don't know. I was never really sold on Hossa. He had some great goals, but that was about it. He was good at scoring but that's about it. His puck handling skills down right sucked at times. I saw him turnover the puck so many times in the playoffs.

Yes, yes, I know...if he scores goals, what else matters? And he did have some spectacular goals.