In honor of Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss how Marian Hossa is fitting in with the Detroit Red Wings. It took a few games for him to get comfortable, particularly since linemate Pavel Datsyuk was out with a sore groin during most of the preseason. However, he now leads the team with 17 points including eight goals and nine assists in just 13 games. He also leads the team with a plus-9 rating. In fact, Hossa has only failed to register a point in just two games this season.
When we signed Hossa to a one-year deal this summer, I was ecstactic because I knew the offensive firepower that we were getting on top of Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Wings fans saw firsthand how dangerous he was during the Stanley Cup Finals and I personally thought he was the best player for the Penguins during that series. It still amazes me that Hossa is here in Detroit. In a Sports Illustrated article before the start of the season, GM Ken Holland said the following:
"Hossa being here is a compliment to us; it's an honor," says Holland. "This was all him. He's here because he was determined to be a Red Wing."
I guess what has surprised me the most is just how strong he is defensively as well. Datsyuk and Zetterberg were both finalists for the Selke Trophy last season as two of the top defensive forwards in the league. When comparing Hossa to those two, he appears to be on line with them. I remember at least a couple instances this season where I saw him get back and make a really strong defensive play and I came away impressed. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I knew Hossa would be good, I just didn't realize he'd be this good.
Another aspect of Hossa that has impressed fans, teammates, and the media alike is his infectious and down-to-earth personality that seems uncharacteristic with a star of this magnitude.
"I knew he was a really good player when he got here, but I didn't realize that he was this good," Niklas Kronwall said. "I mean, he's so strong on the puck, even just going against him in practice, it's amazing how strong he is.
"And then not only is he just an unbelievable player, but the type of person he is, I mean, he is just the nicest guy to everyone. He's not cocky. He's not one of those divas that some great players are."
It's not only his personality, but the energy that he brings to the top line and the team as a whole. The Wings are hoping to be the first team to win back-to-back titles since they did so in '97 and '98. In order to do so, Detroit is trying to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover and I think Hossa is just the cure for the hangover blues. Because he has never won a Cup and seemingly has a one year shot to do so with Detroit, he's giving it everything he's got.
"He's brought excitement, and we haven't been an excited group," Babcock said. "That's one of the things that you really cherish, is his energy, and I think Pavel and Homer have been caught up in that."
Scott Burnside at ESPN.com briefly talked about Hossa's impact in Detroit and a quote he referenced by head coach Mike Babcock really hits home how Hossa can possibly bring the emotion that Dallas Drake had last postseason.
"He's probably been the most emotional guy on the team," Babcock said.
According to Hossa, part of the draw in coming to Detroit was the chance to play among future Hall of Famers. He specifically mentioned how impressed he was by the play and work ethic of defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios. When he called Sidney Crosby in July to tell him of his decision to come to Detroit, he mentioned that as one of the reasons.
"We (Crosby) talked about it," Hossa said. "We had a good talk me and him.
"Syd was disappointed because he wanted me to stay. When I look back, it wasn't easy to get away from a player like that and make a new decision.
"I felt inside me there'd be something better in Detroit. I just felt that way.
"I also had a chance to play with future Hall of Famers with guys with loads of experience. That's the other reason."
While it's just the first month and a half of the season, Hossa has already left his stamp on the team. On October 26th, he was named by the NHL as the Third Star of the Week. Just over a week later, Carhartt presented him with the Hardest Working Player of the Month award.
During the regular-season, Carhartt will present the monthly award to the hardest working Red Wings’ player, along with Carhartt merchandise. The award, in its second season, recognizes the player for his hard work and individual dedication to commitment necessary to excel on the ice. The Red Wings’ coaching staff and front office personnel select the monthly recipients.
Hossa finished October on a nine-game point streak, which came to an end in the Wings’ 3-2 win at Vancouver on Nov. 2. His first goal of the season was a milestone for Hossa, who entered the new campaign with 299 career goals.
In conclusion, I would like to ask the WIM readers which Wings forward is the most valuable one to the team. Don't just base it on the first month of the season, but you can certainly use it as a starting point.