06/10/2010 9:40 AM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
PHILADELPHIA -- Upon further review, Marian Hossa has finally won the Stanley Cup.
There was no way his first championship was going to come easy, especially after the heartbreak of the past two seasons that ended with Stanley Cup Final losses with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and the Detroit Red Wings in 2009. So it was only fitting that the Chicago Blackhawks needed overtime and a video replay of Patrick Kane's winner in order to give Hossa the sweet relief he's wanted for nearly three years.
Following Chicago's series-clinching 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Hossa finally let down the guard he's had up for nearly three years and admitted he truly was afraid of leaving the ice a loser once again.
"Oh my God," said Hossa, who was grinning ear-to-ear on the Wachovia Center ice. "When we go to the Finals again, I was so happy to be in the Finals, but at the same time, it was scary. I'm so glad, what a relief. Third time's the lucky charm. I won it and I got a Stanley Cup and ... what a feeling. This is unbelievable."
Kane's goal 4:06 into overtime came from a bad angle and slipped through the pads of Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton. Kane began jumping around and shedding equipment, but there was some confusion as to whether a goal had actually been scored.
Eventually the Blackhawks piled out onto the ice and began celebrating, but after all Hossa has been through, it's understandable that he was a little hesitant to throw off his gloves and celebrate.
"Kaner said he saw it go in," Hossa said. But not ready to trust the moment, he went on to say, "I went to ask the referee because I wanted to make sure. He told me it was in, and then I started celebrating."
It capped what might have been the longest three seasons for any athlete in sports. Hossa was dealt to the Penguins at the trade deadline in 2008, but came up just short in a six-game Final loss to the Red Wings. Hossa had 3 goals and 4 assists in the series, but the following year would prove to be the nightmare that had some saying Hossa was cursed.
Rejecting long-term deals during the offseason, Hossa instead signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings because he felt that was his best chance to win a title. In a cruel twist, the Penguins would raise the Stanley Cup that season while Hossa failed to register a goal in the seven-game stomach punch.
Following that season, Hossa signed a 12-year deal with Chicago -- and didn't have to wait long for a chance at vindication. He was the first person to hold the Cup over his head Wednesday night after captain Jonathan Toews took it from Commissioner Gary Bettman.
And that wasn't an accident.
"We talked about it very, very briefly this morning," said Toews, who captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. "We didn't want to get overexcited or think too much of the end result, but mentioned it to him this morning to be ready, that if we did happen to hoist it tonight, that (alternate captains Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp) both agreed that he should be the first guy after myself to grab it.
"It's special for him. And I can't imagine being a part of three long seasons like that and to win one finally. It's amazing for all of us. But especially for him, too, for sure."
Hossa's dream come true was nearly the latest sequel in a trilogy of tragedy.
With the Blackhawks clinging to a 3-2 lead in the dying minutes of the third period, a Ville Leino centering pass deflected crazily off Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, then Hossa, then Flyers forward Scott Hartnell and into the net to tie the game.
If anyone ever had a reason to hang their head or panic or feel sorry for himself, it was Hossa. But the woe-is-me attitude that would've corrupted lesser players never infiltrated the brain of the one guy who had every right to believe a dark cloud was hanging over him during the Stanley Cup Final.
"To go all that way and lose, it's very heartbreaking. It's a long summer," said Hawks center John Madden, who now has three Stanley Cups to his credit. "To go to three Stanley Cup Finals and win on your third one, it's something to be said and I don't think it'll ever be done again.
"He deserves it. He never laid down and died. Even when that puck went off his leg and in the net for the third goal, he kept coming and never quit. There was never a 'why me?' or anything like that. I'm telling you, he has without a doubt a huge heart and soul."
No one knows that better on the Blackhawks then Tomas Kopecky, who sounded as if he was more pleased that his friend won the Cup than anything else.
"It was definitely one of the memories I won't forget," said Kopecky about seeing Hossa raise the Cup. "He was so determined. He was so driven to win the Cup. Once I saw him ... it's one of the moments you play hockey for. It's unbelievable."
Almost as unbelievable as what Hossa had to go through just to win it.