Star forward Marian Hossa who was a vital part of the Penguins Stanley Cup Finals run last season returns to Pittsburgh for the first time Sunday afternoon since turning down the Penguins 7 year – $52 million offer and signing with Detroit Red Wings on day 2 of NHL free agency.
Things are working out quite nicely for Hossa who leads the Red Wings with 28 goals and is second on the team with 52 points.
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero gets a lot of blame for putting all of his eggs in one basket and losing out on Marian Hossa. As I harped on it continuously leading up to free agency, Detroit and Boston were Hossa top two choices going into free agency and once Boston bowed out late in the evening on day 1 of free agency, the Penguins felt it was down to them and Edmonton who was offering 9yrs – $81 million.
Management liked their chances of Hossa picking a contender and from what I‚Äôve been told they believed Detroit was out because Wings GM Ken Holland indicated he had not heard from Ritch Winter the agent for Marian Hossa since earlier in the day and he thought Hossa wasn‚Äôt considering Detroit anymore.
Everything changed around 8:30 a.m. the following morning when Hossa phoned Ken Holland about signing a one year deal with Detroit. Ritch Winter who has a reputation of being very hard to deal with, deserves a lot of credit for leading the Penguins on.
He got Pittsburgh to increase their offer to 7 years and just basically played with them because if you look back on the situation, Hossa was not going to sign with the Penguins. Sources tell me it wasn‚Äôt the coaching staff or anything to that extent but it was just the players in the locker room. He highly respects the Penguins young players but there was a lot of turnover in the off-season and he wanted to join a more veteran locker room.
Winter did his job and had two mega offers ‚Äì Pittsburgh (7yrs – $52 million) and Edmonton (9 yrs – $81 million) for his client.
Where Ray Shero deserves the blame is not making a deadline for Hossa to accept or decline the Penguins offer on the first day of free agency and not having a backup plan. The Penguins were not going to sign MarKus Naslund who they were in hot pursuit of. Naslund didn‚Äôt have much interest in returning to Pittsburgh, his sights were set on New York. Can‚Äôt blame Shero on that one as he signed a day later after Hossa
If you look back at the off-season and where the Penguins are now, management didn‚Äôt address team toughness. The Penguins were one of the hardest teams to play against last year. Now leading up to the March 4th trade deadline they are in the same position they were in two seasons ago before they added Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque at the deadline.
Some other thoughts
The Penguins miss Ryan Malone more than they thought they would. Malone scored his 16th goal of the season yesterday and also registered 7 hits.
I‚Äôm told the biggest deal the Penguins offered to Malone in the off-season was 5 years – $17 million which he obviously declined.
The team signed Brooks Orpik to a 6 year deal worth $22.5 million. Offering Malone a 6-7 year deal in the $3.75 – $4 million per season range would have kept him in Pittsburgh. I can guarantee you that. I‚Äôm a big Brooks Orpik supporter but I found it interesting that the team was willing to go 6 years at $3.75 million annually with Orpik but not with Malone.
There are a dozen Adam Hall‚Äôs in the AHL. I have no clue why fans would want him back especially with two guaranteed years left on his contract. Thankfully the Penguins don‚Äôt either.
Gary Roberts had some harsh words for Penguins agitator Matt Cooke. ‚ÄúI have to realize who that is,‚Äù Roberts told the Tampa Tribune of Cooke. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre jostling all the way up the ice, and obviously he‚Äôs famous for diving and he‚Äôs never really played with any honor. He‚Äôs been a coward his whole career and continues to do that. Out there with a visor, chirping like that and he never backs it up. I have no respect for a guy like that. But I have to be smarter.‚Äù
I am very surprised there hasn‚Äôt been much of a outcry that the Penguins raised ticket prices across the board for next season.
Also I will be doing the same kind of set up for the trade deadline that I did for free agency on the old blogger site. About three days prior, I will start doing live updates throughout the day
What’s going to be very interesting at Friday’s morning is whether Michel Therrien scratches Miroslav Satan. I’ll bet he doesn’t.