I hate the Penguins, with a passion. There are four teams that I would never like to see win the Stanley Cup, ever! The Devils, Islanders, Flyers, and Penguins. Everyone else I could live with, and that includes the Detroit Red Wings.
That is, until the Red Wings played the Penguins in the finals this year.
Around this time of the year last year I wrote about how sometimes we root for guys who switch teams to win championships and sometimes we hate them for it. I rooted for Garnett, Allen, and Pierce to win a championship with the Celtics last season. I rooted for Ray Bourque to win a Stanley Cup with Colorado. I mega-loath A-Roid and Randy Moss for signing huge free agent deals and then forcing trades to contenders to win championships. I hate the Penguins, more importantly the diving Sidney Crosby, so what caused me to all of a sudden want them to beat the wings and win the cup?
The answer is simple, Marian Hossa. I wrote about how the Red Wings did not need to add Hossa to their roster last off-season. I also said they were hurting the team more then they were helping the team. Turns out I was nearly wrong. “Nearly!” You could ask my radio partner Jonathan “JB” Berenson, (co-host of Free Ballin’ with JB and Pauly which could be heard at its new time this September on Mondays at 4:00 pm live on www.wmucsports.com.) could attest to the fact that I’m never wrong about these things. Hossa was traded to the Penguins at the deadline last season, and took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to Detroit in 6 games. In the offseason Hossa took less money to sign a one-year contract with the Wings.
A lot of my friends love that Hossa took less money to win a cup. I on the other hand, am not so much a fan. There was just something that set me off about what Hossa did and again I started thinking about when is it ok to root for someone to win a championship when he left his team and why do we root for some and root against some? Marian Hossa helped me reach more of an answer. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Ray Bourque are my prime examples. All three of them played for teams, were the heart and sole of those teams and experienced moderate success with those teams. Each of them made the playoffs with their teams and came close to winning titles, but eventually they ended their runs and before they knew it they were playing for bad teams. When the time came to move on, their teams knew they wouldn’t be able to win a championship during the remainder of the players’ career so the player went elsewhere. On the other side, there were guys like A-Rod and Moss who signed mega deals with bad teams and then realized they were playing for bad teams, and wanted to go elsewhere. For them it wasn’t about the game, it was about the money.
So why is Hossa different from those guys? He wasn’t about the money, he took less money to play for a good team and win. What bothers me here is that Hossa is in the prime of his career. Garnett Allen and Bourque were all either at the end or towards the end of their careers when they left. Hossa also left the #2 team in the league to join the #1 team. In essence Hossa said, even though we just made it to the finals, I don’t think were good enough to win so I’m gonna jump ship. Hossa played for a good Ottawa team, a good Atlanta team, and then a very good Penguins team. Hossa was a centerpiece, he was the key to getting the Penguins to the finals. Then eventually he just said I don’t want to go and win a championship myself, I want someone to win it for me. Therefore I found it very odd that though I wasn’t rooting for the Penguins, I was hoping they would win, and make a statement to Hossa saying “you thought we weren’t good enough, but were better without you.”