All season long, especially as the playoff race heated up, I saw posts on message boards questioning Pens fans on why they had so much hostility towards Marian Hossa.
While there's the obvious knock on the his suddenly former teammates when he said he wanted to go to the team that gave him the best chance to win the cup (it might have held some truth, and may not have been intended to slam the Pens, but...), there are other reasons, at least for me.
With the Pens, Hossa was a difference maker. Hossa was one of the key contributors to the Pens success last season. But it goes beyond that, as for Hossa, the Penguins were a difference maker as well. With the Pens, Hossa seemed finally able to break from his reputation of disappearing in the playoffs.
So, it seemed when the Pens offered Hossa a generous contract, the only obstacle to a perfect match was removed. And then Hossa snubs the Pens to take less money and a much shorter contract because he felt the Wings were his best opportunity to win it all.
Normally, seeing a player take less money for a chance to win it all is refreshing. But one would expect it in the case where I guy leaves an average or bad team to go to a contender and be the difference maker, the guy that gets them over the hump.
That's where the issue with Hossa comes into play. He left a team where he WAS a difference maker to go to a team that had JUST won the Cup without him. So what would the Wings gain by signing him? They were already the Champs, and weren't losing any key players that Hossa would replace, so it's not like he would be the missing link, there was no hump for him to push them over, they already WERE over the hump.
So flashing forward, to June 12, 2009. Had that game ended differently and the Wings had won, Hossa's decision would have paid off, and he would have fulfilled his dream to hoist the Cup. But really, how gratifying should that be for one of the league's stars? Given his performance in the playoffs up until Game 7, and the history I've outlined above, Hossa's contributions would have been MUCH less than is expected of a player of his caliber.
I have no problem with a guy like Ty Conklin jumping ship. I mean hey, if you're a backup goalie and the only chance you have of sniffing the ice in the playoffs is either injury to the starter or a blow out, why not? If you're going to be a bit player, might as well do it where you think you have the best chance to get your name etched in history. But if I'm a player of Hossa's caliber, I don't want to be just another name on the Cup, I want to be one of the key reasons those names ARE on the Cup.
At the end of the day, Hossa was NOT a hired gun, he was the equivalent of the casual fan who paid $150 for a Wings jersey and jumped on the bandwagon of the guys that just won it all.
So, that's my beef with Hossa. I can live with him leaving, and it worked out for the better for my team, the Pens, I just think the stars of the league should set their sights a little higher.