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Hossa spurns Penguins, signs with Red Wings

| Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marian Hossa spent much of his four-plus months with the Penguins speaking diplomatically.

That was not the case Wednesday after he signed a one-year contract worth $7.45 million to join the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

"I want to have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup," said Hossa, who was acquired by the Penguins in a Feb. 26 trade with Atlanta. "When you look at all the teams I could choose from, at the top there were two teams ... at the end of the day I felt like I would have a better chance to win the Cup with Detroit."

Hossa scored 12 goals and recorded 26 points in the playoffs with the Penguins, whose Cup dreams were denied by the Red Wings in a six-game final.

Two days after that bitter defeat, Hossa said he was willing to take less money to play for a "good team" - sparking speculation he would re-sign with the Penguins.

Nobody associated with the Penguins ever believed he included the Red Wings in that category.

"There wasn't just one team," Hossa said yesterday. "I had a couple in my mind. Pittsburgh and Detroit were two of those teams.

"I just felt, total package, it was better in Detroit."

Penguins general manager Ray Shero acknowledged he was surprised Hossa accepted a one-year deal. Shero knew before noon that Hossa wouldn't return to the Penguins, who had given that deadline to accept their latest offer.

Ultimately, Hossa declined offers of five, six and seven years that would have paid him no less than $7 million and no more than $7.5 million annually.

"To me, Marian Hossa is not here," Shero said. "I'm focused on the guys we've got coming back."

The Penguins' main guy, captain Sidney Crosby, made numerous phone calls to Hossa yesterday morning attempting to steer him back toward Pittsburgh.

The Penguins ended Tuesday -- the first day of the free-agent signing period - confident Hossa would return.

However, by mid-morning yesterday, Hossa had the leverage of a lavish offer from the Edmonton Oilers ($9 million annually over nine years) and the one-year proposal he ultimately signed with the Red Wings.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland admitted he was "caught off guard" upon learning from Hossa's agent, Ritch Winter, that a one-year deal was possible.

"Shocked was my initial reaction," Holland said. "Marian really made this happen. Marian made this marriage happen by agreeing to a one-year contract."

Hossa said he never discussed a one-year contract with Shero.

The Penguins were not willing to negotiate their best proposal. They had already added two years to their original offer, and they were already down a top scoring-line forward - left wing Ryan Malone, traded Saturday to Tampa Bay.

Shero said they needed yesterday afternoon to "move forward."

Hours after Hossa signed with the Red Wings, the Penguins announced a five-year extension with Hart Trophy runner-up Evgeni Malkin and a new six-year contract with bruising defenseman Brooks Orpik.

They also engaged in negotiations with remaining free-agent forwards.

Shero said the Penguins did not fail to land any targeted free agents by waiting nearly the opening 24 hours of the signing period on Hossa.

"There are certainly some decent options," Shero said. "The goal of a Marian Hossa on the right side - that was a lot of money going to one player. Now we have the possibility of spreading that out a little bit with maybe one or two guys that will give us more depth up front.

"Realistically, we've got guys that have called me and really want to play here. That's my interest."

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