Marian Hossa on Chicago: 'It's great to be in a hockey town'

Either Marian Hossa(notes) has perpetual foot-in-mouth disease whenever he moves from team to team or he's an unfathomably devious wordsmith.

Please recall when he bolted from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Detroit Red Wings last summer as a free agent, telling the world that he "wanted to have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup, and I felt Detroit is that team" months before discovering it was actually another team.

Then there were his candid thoughts last September about Sidney Crosby(notes) and Pavel Datsyuk(notes) in which he put over his new Red Wings teammate as a better offensive player, despite Crosby helping him to 26 points in 20 playoff games.

Yesterday, former Wings Hossa and Tomas Kopecky(notes) were given the rock star treatment at United Center for their introduction by the Chicago Blackhawks, who signed them both during the free-agent frenzy. True to form, Hossa said something that could easily be interpreted as a bit a slap at his former home in Detroit. From the Chicago Tribune:

"It's great to be in a hockey town," said Hossa, who had 40 goals and 31 assists for the Wings last season. "This is a sports town, a great town. The city is great and the fans are great. There's not much not to like about this city.

"Chicago is a young, enthusiastic team with lots of energy and ... we're going to be going slowly step-by-step up the hill. We believe we can reach our goal."

The "hockey town" line is already catching criticism because Hossa just spent a year in the self-proclaimed Hockeytown, USA. Less scrutinized thus far is the depiction of Chicago as "a young, enthusiastic team with lots of energy" after the Red Wings seemed to run out of gas against the Penguins in their seven-game battle for the Cup last month. (Or, at the very least, had their injuries catch up to them.)

Again, the "young team/old team" thing is accurate and a legit basis of comparison. And checking the tape, Hossa said the "hockey town" thing in a stream of conscious answer. That said, The Chief from Abel To Yzerman must be knee-deep in his summer maneuvers, because there's unfortunately no reaction to Hossa's introduction on the Web's most caustic Wings blog.

What else did Hossa have to say? Why, a few words about the Dale Tallon/Martin Havlat/Blackhawks'(notes) upheaval, of course.

Hossa was asked about Tallon's reassignment this week in favor of new GM Stan Bowman, which must have been all kinds of awkward considering Tallon's the guy who signed him. From the Daily Herald:

"It's hard for me to judge something because I wasn't here," Hossa said. "This is my first day in Chicago, but I'm sure the changes are going to be great for the future of the franchise.

"Dale, from what I understand, is going to still be with the organization. I think Stan is going to do a great job and the future is bright and we're going forward."

As for his good friend Martin Havlat torching the Blackhawks for their treatment of him and of Tallon during the summer, Hossa told the Chicago Sun-Times:

''Marty's a good friend of mine. He told me how great this organization is,'' Hossa said. ''He told me what a great city Chicago is -- which was something I already knew -- and told me some things about the young guys [on the team].''

Hossa is from Slovakia, Havlat from the Czech Republic. Hossa would have enjoyed having Havlat as a teammate but knew it wasn't to be. Both command top dollar in terms of salary. ''It would have been tough in today's economy,'' said Hossa, who said his last conversation with Havlat came immediately after both signed with their new teams. ''I know how the salary cap works. You can't hold everybody. He understood. He moved on, and I moved on. But we're still friends.''

But not BFF, huh?

About that salary cap: The great Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times (well, great for anyone old enough to remember the smoky debates of The Sportswriters on TV via SportsChannel) covers the Chicago cap crisis and the Tallon issue in a fantastic column today:

The idea that McDonough, rather than Tallon, worked on the miffed and departed Martin Havlat's contract sounds like nonsense. McDonough doesn't do contracts. He does rehab. He does demolition. He does hellfire.

It's informative that during the Stanley Cup playoffs, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he was thrilled every time a young Hawks star played well (except against his team). Babcock said he couldn't wait for the players to get so good that they became too expensive for the Hawks to re-sign.

That's the kind of cutthroat business we have here. That's the word from Hockeytown. Thus, there are no more moral victories for the Hawks, no more gee-whiz-aren't-we-youthful-and-exciting nights. No more will the boat horn, the pregame light show and the bars on the premium level suffice.

McDonough has ratcheted it all upward, tightened the screws on everybody from the GM to dishwashers to, yes, himself. Kane cried when Savard was fired. Maybe he shed tears when the beloved Tallon was demoted. But the kid and everybody else in the organization had better buck up and get relentless, hyperactive, mercenary, even cruel.

Finally, as the Blackhawks' fan convention gets underway in Chicago (and we'll take any photos or videos you might have from the event at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com) here is video from the Hossa/Kopecky Rally. Any chance the team marketing department helped out with those signs? At all?

Part 2 is here. Our favorite part is when Hossa is asked if the "third time is a charm" for him in the Stanley Cup finals, and he responds by saying it's a long road to the championship round. So long, in fact, that superstar wingers play like they're asleep in the backseat of the car for seven games.

Thanks to Snapshots for a great rundown on all the Hossa news.