The team

July 2, 2008

CUE: Sports hyperbole

I could cry. I could honestly cry. I love this team so much and days like today just make it that much better.

Yes, the Wings signed Marian Hossa. Yes, it is awesome. No, it does not mean they’ve already locked up a repeat.

What it does mean, actually, is a whole hell of a lot greater. Today proved, once again, that this is one of the most fantastic, well-run and respected franchises in the league, if not all of sports. When I got home from work, I put on my Zetterberg t-shirt and proudly walked the streets of Chicago (not that anyone cared).

Consider the following:

Hossa wants to join the Wings. He had been offered $92M, multi-year deals from other teams. Nonetheless, he calls up Kenny Holland and says he wants to be a Wing, so he’ll sign for one year so we can sign Zetterberg and Franzen next season. Cool. But at what price? Negotiations started way over $8M, and Kenny balks.

Why does Kenny balk?

Because no one on the team makes more than Nick Lidstrom. And no one can.

Why can no one make more than Nick Lidstrom?

Because Nick Lidstrom makes about $2.5-3M less per season than he could if he played for a different team. And he does it because he sets the tone for the rest of the team — you want to win, you need players. And to sign players, you need money. So he sacrifices.

And the Wings, being the classy sons of bitches that they are, look Marian Hossa dead in the eye after he turns down an 8 year, $92M contract and say “Gee, Marian, thanks and all for saying you’d sign a one year deal, but no one on this team can make more than Nick Lidstrom.”

Honestly. That’s what Ken Holland said.

“So here’s what we do,” continued Mr. Holland, who is now my man-crush. “We either break off negotiations now, or you wait for me to call Nick Lidstrom and explain this situation to him. We don’t want him to feel disrespected.”

MARIAN HOSSA JUST AGREED TO A ONE YEAR DEAL. THE WINGS HAD ALL THE CAP SPACE THEY NEEDED TO SIGN HIM. AND HOLLAND SAYS HE NEEDS TO ASK LIDSTROM OUT OF RESPECT.

WHAT IS THIS TEAM?????

And Hossa has every right to be miffed. Every right to be irritated. EVERYBODY wanted to sign him.

And you know what he says?

“Listen, don’t even bother calling Nick. Just sign me for whatever he makes and that’s cool.”

HOLY SHIT.

And just like that, the Wings scared the living shit out of everybody in the league. Not because on paper they’re better than everyone else (which they are). Not because they added Hossa to a forward corp already good enough to win a Stanley Cup (which they did).

But because, while teams mortgage their futures trying to lure top talent, signing hamburger quality players to filet mignon contracts, the Wings quietly and coyly lured in the top free agent on the market not on term, not on money, but because in June he watched them fight, compete, and win like a team and thought “I want that.”

So this officially makes Marian Hossa a force to be reckoned with. Marian Hossa playing uninspired hockey in Atlanta was still ungodly sick. Marian Hossa playing inspired, determined hockey in Detroit could just be earth-shattering. It wasn’t smart to do what he did; not many people could walk away from $85M and feel very good about it.

But he did it because this is what he wants. And this is where he wants to be.

Talk about your mind-numbing days. You watch a team win a Cup, and then a few weeks later this happens. I’m going to enjoy this. I may never see this again.

That, my friends, is a fucking team, from top to bottom.

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