Thursday July 3rd, 2008

For what it's worth, you can't call Marian Hossa a liar. He is a man of his word. When he said that he would take less money for a chance to be a champion last month, the 29-year-old winger wasn't being disingenuous. It's just that he wasn't talking exclusively about the Pittsburgh Penguins either.

As it turns out, Hossa believes the team that has the best chance to win next June is the one that took his last chance away. And so the forward, who joined the Penguins at the trade deadline in February, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings for $7.4 million.

"The thing I was looking for was the best chance to win the Stanley Cup," Hossa said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. "And I thought I would have a little better chance to win the Cup with Detroit."

In taking the one-year deal, Hossa spurned several other more lucrative offers, including long-term deals from Edmonton (reportedly worth $9 million a season for nine years) and Pittsburgh. But his desire to win trumped money, surely a noble sentiment somewhat lacking these days (see Chicago Blackhawk Brian Campbell and Toronto Maple Leaf Jeff Finger).

Detroit couldn't offer a high-priced long-term deal since Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen will be facing free agency next year, so instead Hossa and his agent Rich Winter approached Red Wings GM Ken Holland on Wednesday morning with a one-year option. Thrilled to have it, Holland says landing the winger was a "dream situation" that will now, incidentally, take Detroit out of the hunt for Mats Sundin.

Although Hossa had nothing negative to say about the Penguins, he also didn't pursue them for a one-year deal similar to the one he and his agent concocted for the Red Wings. He didn't give much in the way of an explanation regarding why he thought Detroit had a better chance to win than the Penguins, who cruised through the playoffs before falling in the Stanley Cup Final in six games (four of which were one-goal games). But clearly, he had his reasons.

Pittsburgh, which had offered comparable money to Hossa for a longer term, would probably like to hear his explanation as well. The team had been hot after Hossa since the season ended, hoping to sign the winger who turned out to be a very nice complement to center Sidney Crosby, and it is believed they were close to re-signing him. Hossa said that his final choice, a difficult one, came down to Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The Penguins were so intent on landing Hossa, though, that they temporarily delayed negotiations with restricted free agent goalie Marc-Andre Fleury; they traded negotiating rights to wingers Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts to Tampa Bay, and paid little attention as Ty Conklin, Adam Hall and Jarkko Ruutu all signed contracts elsewhere. They held off on signing defenseman Brooks Orpik until Hossa was history -- though they eventually agreed on a deal that gives the bruising blueliner $22.5 million over six years.

Now without Hossa, without a solid finisher for Crosby, Pittsburgh is back where it was last February. Not a terrible position, but certainly it could be better. There is a certain irony about Hossa's move; that is, if he had stayed in Pittsburgh, he very well could have become the scale-tipper for the Penguins and the Stanley Cup.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.