June 13, 2009
The Marian Hossa(notes) Saga came to an end with a whimper in Game 7. His pedestrian effort in the Final (three assists and zero goals) undermined what should have been the most compelling story of the playoffs: His leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Detroit Red Wings based on his belief that Detroit offered the best chance at the Cup; and then squandering two chances to prove himself right while watching Pittsburgh rally for the championship.
Hossa was asked about regretting his decision after the game. From the Detroit News:
"Regret? I don't regret it," a somber Hossa said, when asked if he second-guesses coming to the Wings. "We could sit here for hours and have a discussion on it. But I do not regret my decision."
He was asked if losing this time was harder than in 2008. "You can say that, because in this position, in Game 7, losing by one goal, it is hard," Hossa said.
Hossa also addressed his conditioning in the Final:
Hossa said he was relatively uninjured during the Finals, only suffering from the usual damage of bumps and bruises. It wasn't a physical issue: It was emotional and mental. "It was definitely very tough for me," Hossa said. "I tried to avoid everything, but it's not easy. You've got lots of things going on, you try to block it, but you're only human."
If there's anything Hossa was in these playoffs, it was a human. Thus begins a summer of free agency for Hossa, although a long-term deal to remain with the Wings has been reported through the Final.
Hossa's decision can be mocked but, ultimately, shouldn't be labeled as a career catastrophe. He came within a win of the Stanley Cup; and the Penguins team that won the championship isn't exactly the same team he left, thanks to the midseason alterations from GM Ray Shero.
That's not to say Hossa is a sympathetic character, after being one of the Wings' gargantuan goats of the final round. In fact, Pascal Dupuis(notes) of the Penguins was asked about whether he felt sympathy for his former teammate. From Craig Custance of the Sporting News:
"Not at all," Dupuis said. "Sorry, but not at all."
He's probably not alone in the Penguins locker room in that thinking.