Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hoss & the Red Wing Raiders

Chicago has a very simple player acquisition strategy: raid the Red Wings. First Jason Williams, then Robert Lang and Brent Sopel, now a pair of Slovak wingers (albeit at opposite ends of the "who gives a shit" spectrum) Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky. I don't say this to put down the Blackhawks; it's a good strategy. Anyone qualified to be anywhere on the depth chart of the Detroit Red Wings, the deepest franchise in hockey, is qualified to be on your team, and is probably an improvement. I mean look at Kyle Quincey. If I was Dave Tallon I'd be looking at Mikael Sammuelsson too, and either Brett Lebda or Derek Meech, whichever one gets inevitably dumped to make room for Jonathon Ericsson. Anyone Ken Holland touches turns to gold.

As for Hossa, he made about the best move he could have. He learned his lesson the hard way with the Wings: even though he made the best possible guess as to which team could take him to the Stanley Cup, he still lost, and in fact lost in the worst possible way; game 7 against his former club. Going forward he probably had two priorities balanced: winning (which as we know is very important to him) and getting appropriate value for his skill (which is only fair). Dave Tallon took a page out of Kenny Holland's playbook by giving him a Franzen-type deal, just a slightly higher price tag; ultra-long term, front-loaded. Hossa has a great chance to win a Cup. It's almost impossible to imagine Chicago not getting a championship (or two) in the next decade. They've assembled a great team and the only questions now are, can they get the goaltending? and, when will the wonder twins mature to the level necessary to grab the chalice? The Wings and the Pens will be around a long, long time, but this past year showed no Dynasty can win them all, not these days anyway, and every team has a shot.

I hope Wings fans don't boo Hossa, who surely would have stayed if Holland could have offered him anything even remotely close to market value. He didn't just ask Hossa for a discount, he asked him for a blowout bonanza. I'll say to Hossa (and Kopecky) what I said to Cheli (although not with the same degree of emotion): thanks for the memories, good luck with your new team, no hard feelings.