July 04, 2008
"We sell dreams and happiness," Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said, unable to stop himself from chuckling. "Dreams and happiness."
The Wings general manager was kidding, but only partly so. His hockey club, which boasts the most stable ownership/ management team in hockey as well as the most talented roster, has become the destination of choice for the best players in the sport. That, it seems, is the only way to understand the decision of Marian Hossa to accept a 25 per cent discount on his services for one year to go and live in Detroit and play out of crumbling, smelly Joe Louis Arena.
Dreams and happiness, indeed. Hossa clearly valued a chance to play with great players and win a Stanley Cup over maxing out his income, and he identified the Wings as the ideal team to try to reach those goals.He could've received $9 million or $10 million a season over six or more years to skate for a variety of teams. Instead, for a one-year, $7.45 million contract, a number designed not to exceed Nicklas Lidstrom's reported team-high $7.6 million paycheque, Hossa moves from skating alongside Sidney Crosby to joining Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and the rest of the remarkably talented Stanley Cup champions.
Holland gets to underpay Hossa at the same time the Maple Leafs are overpaying Jeff Finger, the Blackhawks are overpaying Cristobal Huet, the Islanders are overpaying Mark Streit, Boston is overpaying Michael Ryder and the Stars are overpaying Sean Avery. The rationale in cities like Toronto for getting into questionable contracts is that the free market sets the price and they're powerless to do anything but pay.