Marian Hossa: The Squirrel Factor

Charlie Hines@CharlieHines1Contributor IJune 15, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Maxime Talbot #25 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first goal in the second period with teammates Evgeni Malkin #71 and Ruslan Fedotenko #26 as Marian Hossa #81 of the Detroit Red Wings skates by during Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

I’ve always wondered how a squirrel could get hit by a car. 

They are lightning fast, have great reflexes, and a pretty serious vertical leap. 

But the pastor in me goes back to a scripture I learned:

“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

I use to always think of the scripture when I would roll past a dead squirrel on the road.  Now when I see a dead squirrel on the road, I’ll think of that passage in the bible—and Marian Hossa. 

In June 2008, Hossa was quoted as saying:

“If I wanted to make a couple more dollars, I would probably just re-sign with Atlanta,” said Hossa. “But I’m glad Pittsburgh got me here. This was a fun journey for myself, and a great experience. I hope I can stick with a great team like this. There’s always a limit, but I’d rather take a little less and play on a good team, definitely.”

Ah, that sounds so warm and fuzzy. 

Then I read the stories that started circulating about how in this day and age, it’s refreshing to see a player choose winning over cash.

But in the world of today’s sports and fantasy teams it comes down to loyalty.  Is there any left?  I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like Hossa is playing fantasy hockey with himself. This ain’t XBox where you can just put yourself on a team, win the Cup, and then put yourself on another team and hit restart.

There will be talks soon between the sides, that much is certain.  But in the aftermath of the ultimately disappointing finish to the 2009 playoffs, the Red Wings and Marian Hossa have to look at what’s best for them.  Since mid-season Hossa has said he would take less money to stay in Detroit, and the Wings have said they’d like to keep him.

Let me clarify. It’s no secret I’m a Penguins Fan, It’s no secret I was pretty pissed when the Pens held onto cash and let go of players in the hopes of signing Hossa.  I was pissed when we let him go, then Crosby headed into a scoring slump, then we traded for Bill Guerrin, someone whom I thought brought back what we lost in Recchi. Okay, back to reality.

The reality is, Marian Hossa wants to win a Cup.  News flash—so does every other NHL Player, AHL, College, and Pee Wee Hockey player I know.  Heck, the young kid from church that I took to the Cincinnati Cyclones Game this year wants to win the Cup after seeing the Kelly Cup on display.  I get that! The difference is, most players realize you have to have shared sacrifice as a team to achieve that.

I’d take Hossa back in a heartbeat and I’d take Jagr back in a heart beat. For me, that is probably more nostalgia than anything. 

But let me focus on Hossa again.  He passes up more money and more years for a one-year deal and less money in Detroit.  The musician in me completely understands wanting to play and learn from the best, and hands down Detroit is well established as an NHL Dynasty team.  But the musician in me also thinks of U2—not the greatest individual musicians, but no one can come close to them as a band.

Hossa's decision to play for Detroit is beginning to seem more like contract bait then anything else.  At least it doesn’t seem to be about learning from the best.  Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, or Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Hossa.  I’m guessing that's like choosing which color Ferrari you want to race.

With Hossa suffering game-ending concussions and a dismal playoff record this year, will his stock will drop a bit?  If I’m the general manager of the Red Wings, I’m saying to myself; we won the Cup last year without him, and this year Pittsburgh won the Cup without him.  Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong?

What’s the squirrel factor here?  If this is all about the Cup, then Hossa needs to get some couch time with Lemieux, Roenick, Sundin, or Mike Modano.   Have lunch with John Elway if you have to.  Just sign with the team that you can contribute to, and grow with. One that is well positioned to win multiple Cups long term. 

Oh wait, that is Detroit. Then why the one year deal?   Isn’t Detroit maxed out in age, and salary cap?  Sure they had the tools to get the job done this year?  They had the tools to get it done last year, and did.  So don’t tell me this is about learning from the best.  I see this as all about Lord Stanley’s coat tails.

Maybe Hossa should consider signing with Tampa Bay, Edmonton, San Jose, Pittsburgh, the Flyers—or maybe stay in Detroit, I don’t know.  Just show us your heart and head are in the same place. 

In church it’s often said, “We want the testimony without the test.”  Hossa needs to stop trying to be the guy that joins the band just before the big hit single.  Leave that job for the general managers—and call me crazy, but fire your agent. Hossa’s agent is shopping his credibility out the window, soon to be another bobblehead that could have been.

Do I feel bad for Hossa? No, not this year.  Will I be cheering when he raises the Cup above his head? Heck yeah!  Just as I did for Ray Bourque, Mark Messier, and Teemu Selanne—but they had history, lots of it.  Will Hossa be playing for the logo on the front of the Jersey—or the name on the back then when that day comes?

Free agency will be here before we know it, and the trade deadline even faster. We all hear the engine roaring, we hear the truck getting closer, Detroit has their Cups.  Pittsburgh hoisted their Cup this week, Hossa is still skating on the double yellow lines in traffic. 

I hope he makes up his mind. I hope he realizes the victory will be so much sweeter when he has shared the sacrifice with brothers who have waited for someone like him to come along a make a difference.

I look forward to watching him play this year and I hope his concussions don’t turn out to be like Lindros'. That would be such a personal waste and such a loss for the sport.

So what is the moral of this story?

Next time you’re driving and you see that squirrel darting back and forth, remember Marion Hossa and “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” 

P.S.  Tap the brakes a bit and give the critter a fighting chance—this one is well worth saving.


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