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Pens' Hossa emphasizing Cup over cash

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Marian Hossa said for the first time Friday that he will entertain the idea of taking less money to play for a Stanley Cup contender, and believes the Penguins fit the bill as a great team.

The high-scoring right wing figures to command a top salary when he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"If I wanted to make a couple more dollars, I would probably just re-sign with Atlanta," said Hossa, whose 12 goals and 26 points in the playoffs were exactly what the Penguins were seeking when they acquired him from the Thrashers on Feb. 26. "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."

Penguins general manager Ray Shero did not speak to the media yesterday, when players cleared out their lockers at Mellon Arena. But captain Sidney Crosby made it clear that he does not want to enter next season the way he did this one -- without a high-scoring winger to make best use of his talent as a set-up man.

Crosby, whose five-year, $43.5-million extension begins this fall, said yesterday that he is willing to drop his tag as the team's highest-paid player in order to keep his right-hand man in Hossa.

"I want to play with him," Crosby said. "He's a great player. I hope it works out that he's able to stay. He's a great person. He works hard. I enjoy playing with him. As we played together more and got used to each other, things started to happen, and it was a lot of fun out there. It would be a lot of fun to keep playing with someone like that. I hope it works out."

Hossa reciprocated the affinity for playing alongside Crosby -- he scored 10 points in 12 regular-season games and, counting the playoffs, finished with 36 points in 32 games with the Penguins -- but put the onus on Shero to keep them on the same line.

"Sid is an incredible player and even better person," Hossa said. "But there's lot of players to be signed. We'll see what's going to happen. I'm sure Ray's going to do everything he can to keep everybody together."

At 29, Hossa is in position to secure a long-term deal with a substantial raise on his $7 million salary of this past season.

Crosby said he would neither meddle with management about whom to keep and how much to pay nor persuade his teammates to give the Penguins a hometown discount the way he did last July.

"That was my choice," Crosby said. "Every guy works hard to earn a certain amount of money. I'd never put pressure on them to do that because that's solely up to them. They work too hard to do that. That's a personal thing.

"Hopefully, we can keep everyone. If not, you wish the guy good luck and move on. That's probably the hardest part, knowing that there's not going to be the same guys here."

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