Remembering Chicago's 'relentless' pursuit of Marian Hossa

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Thumbnail image for kopeckyandhossa.jpgJust a few moments ago, I discussed a Montreal Gazette story that included an interesting bit regarding hockey agent Rich Winter’s formula for building elite NHL teams. As it turns out, I couldn’t help but find another portion of that story quite interesting.

It’s not surprising for teams to go all-out to court star players. Sometimes, in college sports, that process is dripping with illegal possibilities and shady dealings. Then again, often it’s as harmless as treating someone to a steak dinner. The Montreal Gazette piece described the Chicago Blackhawks’ courtship of Marian Hossa, which was nothing short of aggressive (or, as Winter says in the story, “relentless”).

Once the Blackhawks realized they were in the running, they were relentless. Winter credits Tallon and then-assistant general manager Stan Bowman for their aggressive pursuit. After meeting in Montreal, he said the phone calls were often, sometimes multiple conversations each day.

“They were just tremendous,” Winter said. “They forechecked him into submission and by the time free agency’s clock had started, they had Marian right where they wanted him.”

And now, once again, he’s right where he wants to be.

On the heels of the NBA fining Mark Cuban a ridiculous amount of money for “tampering” with Lebron James, it’s pretty stunning to read that the Blackhawks met with Hossa during the June ’09 NHL Draft. That’s a healthy amount of time before Hossa’s contract with the Detroit Red Wings officially expired on July 1, but apparently the team had a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Slovakian star, allowing him to negotiate with other teams if a long-term deal wasn’t in the cards.

Hossa wanted one thing: for his agent, Winter, to find him a “winner.” Being that Chicago is three wins away from getting him his hard-fought Cup, it seems like his agent is doing is job well. One can debate how truly elite the Blackhawks are, but they certainly know how to make a potential free agent feel special. Just ask Marian Hossa (and, really, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet).

Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton, Couture alternates

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton
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Joe Pavelski is the new captain of the San Jose Sharks. The club made the announcement today via Twitter.

The former captain, Joe Thornton, will be an alternate captain, along with Logan Couture.

Pavelski, 31, was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season, finishing with 37 goals and 33 assists. He’s also signed through 2018-19, so giving him the ‘C’ makes sense from a long-term stability perspective.

Couture, 26, is also signed through 2018-19, while Thornton, 36, only has two years left on his contract.

The Sharks had four alternate captains (Thornton, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in 2014-15, but no captain.

Related: DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.