Hossa, Blackhawks agree on deal

Updated: July 2, 2009, 1:24 AM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed star winger Marian Hossa to a 12-year deal.

The deal is worth $62.8 million over the life of the contract -- an average of $5.233 million a year.

[+] EnlargeMarian Hossa
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesA 12-year deal helped Marian Hossa leave the Red Wings for their Original Six rivals.

Hossa was one of two Detroit Red Wings to join the Blackhawks on Wednesday. The team also signed center Tomas Kopecky to a two-year contract that will pay him $1.2 million per season.

"To add Marian, an elite and world-class player, and Tomas, a Stanley Cup champion, to our exciting young core reinforces our commitment to try to win the Stanley Cup," Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon said.

Hossa, who surprisingly took a one-year deal with the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Red Wings last summer, cashed in this time. The four-time All-Star and 11-year NHL veteran has played on a Stanley Cup runner-up the past two seasons. The Blackhawks are his fourth team since 2008.

"Now I don't have to worry about dealing with it year-to-year. I'm set for 12 years. That will make it easier and I can focus on hockey," Hossa said.

Hossa will make $7.9 million each of the first seven years of the deal. However, for the 2016-17 season, his salary drops to $4 million. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, Hossa will make $1 million and in the final two years of the deal, he will make just $750,000 each year.

The Blackhawks, who made a run to last season's conference finals, also were hoping to re-sign last season's leading scorer, free agent Martin Havlat.

Once contract talks broke up with Havlat, the Blackhawks quickly turned their attention to Hossa.

The Red Wings and Hossa were negotiating to the end but couldn't come to an agreement. Havlat and the Blackhawks had been in talks throughout the season and were close on a long-term deal but never finished it off.

"I had a great time in Detroit. ... But with today's economy and the salary cap, it's really hard to sign star players," Hossa said.

"Somebody just couldn't be able to sign and I guess that was me," he added. "That was basically a great year. It didn't finish how I would like. Now it is time to move on. I was hoping to sign a long-term deal and Chicago made a great offer."

The Blackhawks offered Havlat only a one-year deal the past week. The Blackhawks also did not re-sign goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, their starter during the playoffs last season, who earned a new deal with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

"We were just unable to get a deal done with Marty," general manager Dale Tallon said. "It was 11:01 and we decided to go in a different direction. The important thing we're doing is to keep the core together. So this deal was important to get done at this term to help us in the future solidify that core group. ... I wish Marty and Nik all the best. We're turning the page and moving forward."

Hossa posted 40 goals and 71 points in 74 regular-season games. But he struggled through the postseason with 15 points in 23 games and was held without a goal during the Stanley Cup finals.

The 30-year-old Hossa will also be counted on for some leadership. The Blackhawks, who lost to the Red Wings in the Western Conference finals in May, were the youngest team in the NHL last season.

"Marian has played a lot of games," Tallon said. "The most-important thing for Marian is that he wants to win and he feels we're headed in the right direction and that he can be as a 30-year-old one of our elderly statesmen on our team and help lead this young team."

Hossa is a strong two-way forward, but was a complementary piece in Detroit behind marquee players Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom. In 775 career games he has 339 goals and 380 assists. A 1997 draft choice of the Ottawa Senators, he has also played for the Atlanta Thrashers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I will be one of the oldest guys, which will be strange for me, a little different, but I'm looking forward to playing with a young team," Hossa said during a conference call.

The Blackhawks believe Hossa is the difference maker that get them to the finals and bring a Stanley Cup back to Chicago for the first time since 1961.

"He's a horse out there. He can play defense and offense and score 40 goals. He's a hard guy to slow down and to stop. He's durable," Tallon said.

"He's a game-breaker."

Kopecky had six goals and 13 assists in 79 regular-season games for the Red Wings last season, his fourth with the team.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.