The Stanley Cup finals begin on Saturday night, but the Marian Hossa(notes) Saga is already the leading angle for the media. Which is understandable when you think about the major dramatic themes (Betrayal! Comeuppance!) at play and the fact that we're going to have a clear cut winner and loser in his decision to leave the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Detroit Red Wings.
"It's a unique situation right now, definitely this doesn't happen often," Hossa said. "I try to make the best of the situation for myself and try to help the team win a Cup. Last year I lost it so this is another chance. It's going to be hard but it's a good chance. ... I have to make this not too big a distraction. I just have to use it as an advantage."
Now comes the series of reckoning. Hossa gambled correctly on Detroit, he's back in the Finals, the favored team for the Cup. But waiting is the scorned lover.
"Ironic," he repeated over and over, a big pack of television cameras surrounding him. He kept looking around, unsure of what to say until one of the Red Wings' public relations people ushered him off. There was nothing to say. The talking is over. Marian Hossa has to show it now.
As for Penguins fans, there are a couple of different mindsets.
"He came here, we took him in, fell in love with him, made songs for him, cheered for him," said Pens fan John McClelland, of Squirrel Hill. "Said he wanted a big deal. We offered it to him, then he goes to them for a one-year deal."
But The Pensblog, those merry pranksters and Penguins fan trendsetters, see things a bit differently:
We're are pulling the Don't Boo Hossa train out of the station. If he had signed with Pittsburgh, the Pens wouldn't be here right now. And the Pens' salary-cap outlook would look like Hiroshima. And that's all we're gonna talk about Hossa. Nobody really cares anymore.
The reaction from Penguins fans will be interesting at Mellon, but not as interesting as the reaction from Hossa on the ice in this series. His postseason thus far as had some star moments, but they've been fleeting.
His pride, his instincts and a Stanley Cup are on the line. It's great theater.
What do you expect out of Hossa in this series, and will his decision be validated or vilified?