One Man to Watch: Marian Hossa

For as long as I've been a hockey fan, I've always made sure to be front of the television when a team has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’ll be there tonight … and will be sure to keep an eye on Detroit Red Wings forward Marian Hossa. ↵

↵Recall that it was just a year ago that Hossa played a pivotal role in helping the Penguins reach the Finals for the first time in 16 seasons after being acquired in a deadline deal with the Atlanta Thrashers. But less than a month after he had tasted defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals, Hossa spurned a multi-year offer from the Penguins to sign with Detroit, ostensibly because it would give him a better chance at winning a championship. ↵

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↵Needless to say, Mr. Hossa is not exactly the most popular figure among Penguins fans, something he was regularly reminded of during Games 3,4 and 6 in Pittsburgh when he was hooted every single time he touched the puck. ↵

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↵I'm having a hard time thinking of another player who has had more on the line personally coming into a Game 7 in a championship series than Hossa. After leading the Red Wings in goal scoring in the regular season with 40, the Slovakian winger has had a respectable playoff, with 15 points in 22 games. ↵

↵

↵That being said, he's turned in something of a lackluster performance in the Finals, posting just three assists while failing to score a goal. In short, it wouldn't be unfair to say that Hossa, he of the $7.45 million contract, wasn't carrying his weight. That may very well have led to the bizarre rant that NBC's Mike Milbury unleashed between periods of the Game 6 telecast. ↵

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↵Now that the entire season is down to just one game, look for anything and everything that Hossa does tonight in Detroit to first be put under a microscope before it's subsequently blown completely out of proportion. Then again, even I have to admit that I'll be watching very closely -- and I'm sure the folks at NBC will be, as well -- as Hossa makes his way through the postgame handshake and looks all of his former teammates in the eye for the first time since they tasted defeat together just a year ago. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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