Hossa can't beat Leafs wherever he goes

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

The Curse of Those (Bleepin') Buds has followed Marian Hossa all the way down to Dixie.

While the gifted winger has thrived in his new hockey home since being dealt from the Ottawa Senators to the Atlanta Thrashers 15 months ago, one thing has not changed for Hossa.

Those irritating Maple Leafs continue to plague whatever team he suits up for.

While Hossa was a member of the Senators, the team was punted from the playoffs four times by its provincial rivals from Toronto.

As well, on March 11, 2000 Hossa was involved in an accidental incident which resulted in an eye injury to then-Leafs defenceman Bryan Berard.

In any event, those are not cherished memories for Hossa, who was dealt to Atlanta with defenceman Greg DeVries for forward Dany Heatley on Aug. 23, 2005.

Yet even in Atlanta the Leafs still haunt him.

Entering their matchup against the Thrashers tonight in Georgia, the Leafs have defeated Atlanta eight consecutive times including the five in which Hossa has participated.

"To tell the truth, those Ottawa-Toronto series are ancient history," Hossa said yesterday during a phone interview from Atlanta. "But here with Atlanta, too, we've had a tough time beating the Leafs."

At the time of the blockbuster trade, many observers called the swap a steal for the Sens, feeling Heatley was the flashy superstar needed to put Ottawa over the top.

But after another disappointing playoff run by the Sens last spring, people are finally beginning to take notice of Hossa's fine play.

Since the time of the deal, Heatley has garnered 133 points, just six more than Hossa. DeVries, meanwhile, has been a steadying influence on the Atlanta defence.

"I don't think about who (won the trade)," said Hossa, who is second in NHL scoring with 35 points this season. "I think it helped both teams. Maybe (Heatley) got a bit more attention because he plays in Canada now but I don't necessarily mind being out of the spotlight.

"It took a while for me to settle in with a new system, new coach and new teammates but I'm comfortable now."

Hossa would prefer to put his Ottawa days behind him.

"We had a great lineup and so much talent there," he said. "We just always seemed to miss taking the next step."


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