SUN Hockey Pool

Offer made Marian think

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

DETROIT -- To Marian Hossa, at first, Edmonton was never a consideration.

The most sought-after free agent in hockey this summer might as well have gone to play on the moon.

But Daryl Katz was persistent.

The new owner of the Edmonton Oilers threw a bucketful of cash at the talented winger - perhaps irresponsibly in this salary cap era - and offered him financial security for multiple lifetimes.

Yet, apparently there are still some things money can't buy. And not even a sales pitch from former teammate Shawn Horcoff was able to convince Hossa to play in Edmonton.

GM HORCOFF

"I felt like a GM for 48 hours there," Horcoff said. "I had played with him over in Sweden (during the lockout). I know him, he's a great guy and he would have been a great addition to our team.

"He's an elite player, probably one of the top-10 forwards in the league. I think it's a credit to Daryl, (Hossa) wasn't even thinking about us, but in the end it came down to Detroit and Edmonton."

Katz wanted to make a big splash with his takeover of the club, and tried to do it with the biggest fish on the market. Hossa would have been the most expensive free agent ever landed by the club and would have made it difficult for the Oilers to sign anybody else.

It may have even affected the contract extension the Oilers would later give Horcoff.

"That was before my deal," Horcoff said. "My agent and I were joking a little about it that if we get this guy we had to talk.

"But that's what you have to do, you have to cater to the top five or six guys in order to get them to come here. But I don't think that even a year ago we would have come close to getting him."

If anything the Oilers piqued Hossa's curiosity and had him thinking about making Edmonton his long-term home.

"I had a great conversation with the owner and Shawn Horcoff over the summer," Hossa said. "We had a great talk. But at the time, I was somewhere else. I was picturing myself with another team. We had a great conversation and everything I heard sounded fantastic. It was tough to say no, but I had to."

Reports suggest Hossa turned down $9-million per season in Edmonton to play for the Detroit Red Wings. There are contradictions as to the length of the offer, which has been rumoured to be as high as nine years, but was probably closer to seven.

Regardless, it was a lot of scratch.

"All I can tell you about it, was that it was a really, really high offer," Hossa said. "It was an offer which I wasn't expecting. You have to think about it when an offer like that comes, but I was still convinced that I wanted to go to another team.

A CONTENDER

"I wanted to go to one of the top teams in the league. I knew I wanted to go in that direction. I wanted to go somewhere where I thought would give me the best chance to win. It might happen, or it might not happen, but I wanted to give myself that chance."

It's not as though he's scrounging for loose change with the Red Wings. Hossa, 29, signed a one-year, $7.45-million deal to play in Detroit. There's talk the Red Wings are already working on trying to sign him to an extension.

"This is one of the top teams in the National Hockey League," he said. "To get a chance to play with Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios and those types of players, you are going to learn something from them. So far it's been a great ride, we're winning games and that's what's important."

Heading into last night's contest against the Oilers, Hossa led the Red Wings with 10 goals and 13 assists in 16 games.

He's a major reason why they are once again Stanley Cup contenders, having lost just two games in regulation prior to last night.

"He's still going to have a lot of money for a lot of years," said Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "He's going to play after this year. He's a good, good player and I like the fact that he came here. I'm pretty sure that he wanted to come here prior to the trade deadline last year, but we didn't have the resources to trade for him.

"In the summer, things worked out well for us and we're happy to have him and I think he's thrilled to be here. I think we have a real good environment for him here. It's about winning, there is a lot of demand on you here, but it's been a lot of fun and he's been excellent."


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