Marian Hossa is playing in his third Stanley Cup final in as many years, with his third different team and still looking for a championship ring.
Given the way he left the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 2008, and then did the same to the Wings a year later for the Chicago Blackhawks, there are some in the NHL who do not wish him well. They point to Hossa's two goals and nine assists in 16 playoff games this spring and snicker.
However, 'Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday, he did not go after Hossa last summer simply for his scoring.
"I think more than anything, though, he played a style that we were trying to instill in some of our younger guys, which is he plays both ends of the ice," the GM said. "I think we've seen that in the playoffs here. He's contributed offensively, but I think when you watch the game closely, you notice that he does all those little things so well. And I think it has rubbed off on some of our younger players. We got a lot of talented young offensive guys here. You want them to be surrounded by players that play hockey the right way."
As for Hossa, being the first player to be in three consecutive Cup finals with three different teams is no big thrill.
"Well, that's not as important as winning the trophy," he said. "That's the most important."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will hold his annual media conference on Friday. He is breaking with custom by having it one day before the first game of the Stanley Cup final and is expected to confirm what has been whispered for a while now - the location and opponents of next season's outdoor games.
The official Winter Classic will be Jan. 1 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, between the Penguins and Washington Capitals. A second game will be added in mid-February at McMahon Stadium in Calgary between the Flames and Montreal Canadiens.
Blackhawks winger Andrew Ladd has an undisclosed injury, although head coach Joel Quenneville told ESPN.com that Ladd will play at some point in the final. For the Philadelphia Flyers, goaltender Brian Boucher, who was lost to a sprained knee in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, is practising again. He hopes to serve as Michael Leighton's backup starting with Game 1 on Saturday.
Glendale ante's up
The NHL officially got its $25-million (U.S.) from Glendale city council on Thursday, when the money was taken from an account intended to pay for sewers and water and placed it in an escrow account.
The league demanded the money to cover losses next season, or it would have sold the Phoenix Coyotes for $170-million to a waiting buyer. Sources said the prospective buyer was Winnipeg-based True North Sports & Entertainment.
Both the NHL and city officials claim the taxpayers' money is unlikely to be used because they expect the Coyotes will be sold by the league to one of two groups who plan to keep the team in the Phoenix suburb.