Unfortunately, fate stepped in and sent a rolling puck over the boards off the stick of Jonathan Ericsson, allowing the Hawks to tie the game late and send it to OT, thus ensuring a few more days of hearing about the most overrated streak in hockey since the Red Wings' 23-straight home wins a season ago.
During the game, whenever Hossa touched the puck, a smattering of boos could be heard from the crowd. When the Red Wings did the classy thing and recognized Hossa's remarkable accomplishment, the fans reacted mostly with cheers, but there were still some who voiced their displeasure with the former Red Wing.
I imagine that's where the angst lies. We as fans don't react well to players voluntarily leaving for another team, even if we can understand why they left. Hossa signed a 1-year mercenary-type deal with the Red Wings after the 2008 Cup season in the hopes that he could finally earn a ring. After a stellar regular season (the last time a Wing has scored 40 goals), he scored 6 goals in the playoffs but was unable to get the Wings past his other former team, the Penguins.
That's where things got tricky. The Red Wings of 2009, much like the Blackhawks of 2010, were in a salary cap crunch. They had re-signed Henrik Zetterberg to a massive contract extension earlier that year, a move that was met with celebration as the future captain was locked up and would remain a Red Wing for life.
The other move that took place prior to the end of the 2009 season was Johan Franzen receiving his own giant extension, this one an 11-year, $43.5M contract that also guaranteed Franzen would likely remain a Red Wing for the rest of his career.
With the core of the team locked up for a very long time, the Wings were left with a little bit of cap space to sign several players, including Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, all while bringing up Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader to play with the Wings full time.
Despite several attempts to work something out with Hossa that would pay him a lot of money over a very long time, the Wings were unable to get a deal done, and he turned and signed a $62.8M, 12-year contract with the Blackhawks. His arrival was the spark the Hawks needed as they went on to win the Cup in 2010, and he's been a force in Chicago ever since.
If I'm Johan Franzen, I probably know that people will forever link me and Hossa in their minds. They are two players who play a similar type of game (although Hossa is far superior in every aspect), and in the past few years as Hossa has put up a lot of points in Chicago while Franzen has struggled in Detroit, fans have begun to ask the same question over and over again:
Why did Ken Holland "choose" Franzen over Hossa?
This, as the idea goes, was one of Holland's biggest blunders. That he allowed Hossa to walk for nothing while holding on to a guy who has not scored 30 goals while being signed for an eternity is a black mark on an otherwise stellar resume. How could Holland not get a contract done with Hossa when both sides wanted him to remain a Red Wing even after a very disappointing end to the previous season?
It's not hard to wonder what could have been had Hossa stayed in Detroit. I would bet a large amount of money that Chicago wouldn't have a Cup and the Wings would still be a legitimate Cup contender with a talent like Hossa on Datsyuk's wing (stop crying).
However, it's about time to stop with the "boo hoo how could Holland have screwed this up so badly?" stuff and move on. It's not like this was the first or last time that he missed out on landing a coveted player, and there's not a GM in the league that doesn't have a move or two that either got away from him or that he regrets.
Perhaps a little history lesson is in order. First and foremost, the biggest thing to remember is that it wasn't a case of Holland sitting down with a picture of both Franzen and Hossa and going "eenie meenie miney moe" between the two. Franzen's extension was signed in April before the playoffs began, while Hossa was one of several players who was a free agent after the season was over. Holland's history has shown that he rarely signs extensions during the season, allowing a player's performance to dictate what they got paid.
In Franzen's case, he had emerged as one of the Wings' best players, a dominant goal-scorer who had 12 goals the previous playoffs and proceeded to score 13 after signing his extension. He and Zetterberg were the only PPG players on the Wings that postseason, and he was rewarded with a very handsome raise that was also very cap-friendly.
Hossa had a fantastic 2009 season, but his playoffs could best be described as inconsistent. He had 6 goals and 15 points, but all 6 of those goals came in 3 games, and he was held to 3 assists in the Finals. After he signed with Chicago, it was revealed that he had played most of the previous season with a slight rotator cuff tear, an injury that ultimately required surgery and caused him to miss the start of the subsequent season.
Couple that with the fact that Hossa wanted to get paid a lot of money, and the Wings were unable to accommodate his request. It wasn't a secret that Hossa signed with the Wings because he thought they gave him his best shot at winning, but when he signed with Chicago he obviously thought there was talent there, but he was also given a truckload of cash to go with his new teammates. It wasn't that Hossa chose Chicago over Detroit; he chose Chicago and $63M over Detroit and the $40-$50M that they were offering (if reports at the time were to be believed).
Marian Hossa is a phenomenal talent and has been worth every penny to the Blackhawks. He was also a hell of a Red Wing in his one season here, and he parlayed that into a great contract on a very good team. Johan Franzen, despite his struggles in the eyes of some, has led the team in goals the past 2 seasons, and among players signed beyond 2014, remains a relative bargain at around $4M a year. Perhaps it's about time that we stop penalizing Franzen for not being Hossa and stop booing Hossa for getting the contract that a player of his talent deserves. After 4 years, it's time to move on.