Laughing off the 'Hossa Curse'
If you ask Google, there are approximately 341,000 references to the "Hossa Curse" on the internet.
If you ask Marian Hossa, he'd probably suggest he has handled 341,000 questions relating to his supposed inability to win a Stanley Cup.
For those fresh on the scene, the Hawks signed this wondrously talented forward at the start of the free-agent period last July - a few weeks after he and the Detroit Red Wings lost the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals to Pittsburgh Penguins.
The year before, as a member of the Penguins, he and his teammates lost the Cup finals to Detroit.
Ergo, Hossa must have hexed his respective teams.
"It's a great feeling coming to the Finals again," Hossa said Sunday after the Blackhawks wrapped up their sweep of San Jose. "Definitely it is. This time, though, I want to finish in a much more positive way than two years ago. That's my goal."
Hockey fans tend to forget Hossa delivered 3 goals and 4 assists for Pittsburgh during its six-game loss in 2008, but they tend to remember he produced just 3 assists for Detroit in last year's seven-game series.
Maybe that's just the way the world works, but the doubts grow larger the longer Hossa stays off the scoresheet.
Since delivering the dramatic overtime goal to win Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Nashville on April 24, Hossa owns just 1 goal in the last 11 games.
He'll take a seven-game goal-less streak into the Stanley Cup, which serves as his longest drought since ... drum roll, please ... last year's Stanley Cup Finals.
"Oh, I am frustrated. Trust me," Hossa said. "I am getting close chances, but for whatever reason the puck doesn't want to jump in (the net).
"It is in a goal scorer's head. You don't want it. On the other hand, I try to do the other stuff better on the ice. Try to go hard back killing penalties and put the pride in that department. Try to be 'plus' for the team that way - and still try to shoot the puck and I'm hoping one lucky one will go in and go from there."
As for the curse that bears his name, Hossa puts his faith in the similarly simple axiom "third time lucky."
"Yeah, I heard that a few times, even when I signed here," he said. "So I really hope so."