Monday, July 7, 2008

Hossa fallout redux

After the initial emotions (shock, disdain, cursing) have died down, TST buddy Greg Wyshnyski posed a question on Puck Daddy to Penguin fans:

Here's the thing that I asked [to yahoo/going five hole writer Sean] Leahy last week, and he really didn't have an answer on behalf of Pittsburgh Penguins fans: If Hossa fails to win a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, what would it take to forgive him if he showed an interest in coming back to the Penguins?

A full-on apology for his avarice? A daily foot massage for Maxime Talbot for the duration of their contracts? Or has this bridge been permanently burned? Is Marian Hossa now dead to Penguins fans?

As we're ought to do, we turn to a hair-band for the answer. In this instance was it not Motley Crue who taught "don't go away mad, just go away"?

In the long-run, Penguins fans shouldn't be mad. Of course, the human nature is to hold a grudge that Hossa believed he'd have a better shot of winning the Cup in Detroit that Pittsburgh, but a neutral observer would probably tell you that's a good bet.

Even though Hossa only pulled on the black and gold jersey 32 times, the trade was worth it:

  • The cost really wasn't that bad--guys like Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis are just as good as Colby Armstrong; Erik Christensen wouldn't be a top 6 forward this year; and the two first round prospects (Angelo Esposito and Daultan Leveille) are still a-ways away from producing in the NHL, if they ever even make it there.

  • The message the trade sent was the front office didn't expect just gradual improvement: they wanted to be bold and embolden the players to dream big.

  • The Penguins got two games from winning the Stanley Cup, and Hossa played his role wonderfully.

Further, it wasn't just Hossa's choice to go to Detroit, he bent over backwards to make it happen. Consider (emphasis added):

We were dreaming thinking we could add either [Hossa or Mats Sundin] to our team because we were looking at one year deals.

"I went to bed last night thinking we were going to be by the way side."

Hossa's agent, Ritch Winter, called Holland in the morning and said his
client was on the line and willing to discuss a one-year contract

"I asked what they were looking for," Holland told Landsberg. "It was north of 7.5 (million). I told them I was uncomfortable (having Hossa make more than Lidstrom).

"In the end, Marian Hossa told me to not bother calling Nik, one year at 7.45 - it was a done deal."

(from TSN)


I had to compare the two teams, and there's a little better chance to win the Cup in Detroit. I had a great time with Sid and playing on the power play with Geno, but the team in Detroit is something special. I know it's a short term, but we never talked about a one-year [deal] with Pittsburgh. We just talked about a long-term deal. I totally believe Detroit has the kind of team that can win it again."

In conclusion, Hossa agreed to a contract the price and the length that Detroit wanted. If he would have went back to Pittsburgh for a one year $7.6 million contract, it would have been granted. He never let the Penguins know he'd consider a short term deal, so how were they to know it was a possibility? But, as an unrestricted free agent that's just as much his right as signing in Edmonton for $90 million, as many expected.

The Penguins, after losing the Hossa sweepstakes, turned around and locked up their core--Evgeni Malkin at $8.7 million a season and Marc-Andre Fleury at $5 million. Omitting Brooks Orpik's new contract (since the Pens almost certainly could not have afforded him if they were paying Hossa $7+ million for the next 5-7 years) the Pens have their four franchise cornerstones* locked up until at least 2012-13 for an average cap hit of $26.4 million. Add Hossa's approximate contract and that's five players for about $33.6 million. Suddenly the room to sign other players (like Orpik, Jordan Staal, Talbot and Kris Letang) is cut down significantly, especially if the salary cap levels off or doesn't keep rising at such a fast rate.

*Those cornerstones, of course, being Crosby and Malkin at $8.7 million a piece, Fleury's $5 million and Ryan Whitney's $4 million*

In the end, everyone wants that flashy super-star winger for Crosby. We believe Pens fans are mainly bitter about Hossa leaving is that he is an awesome player and if he was willing to take less for a contender, why wouldn't he chose Pittsburgh to be that place? However Hossa turning his back on the Penguins, while disappointing, isn't the end of the world. Compare the top 6 forwards at the beginning of last season to how it'll look going into training camp and the forwards ARE improved; even with the defection of Ryan Malone. The sky is not falling, the world will still move on. And the Penguins still ought to be one of the, if not THE team to beat in the East again next season.

The ultimate answer to Wyshnyski's question is that it's just time to move on. The Pens didn't get Hossa, but time will tell if they can use his money to keep support players that want to be here (like Cooke and Miroslav Satan) to come in and get the team to it's ultimate goal. tPb had a good point in today's post: every team that's ever won the Stanley Cup has found a way to do it without Hossa. He's great, but not a prerequisite
So don't go away from this Hossa situation mad, Pens fans, just go away. It's time to move on.


Anonymous said...

It's almost like breaking up with an ex. There was no cheating, just different mutual interests. And you sure as hell don't want her to feel super happy when she meets the next guy. You just want her to go away.

DMG said...

...and there's more than a little part of you hoping that everything goes to shit with the next guy....and the next guy and the next guy, until she winds up knowing that he happiest days are behind her. Right? Just me?