After negotiating a contract with one Chicago Blackhawks general manager and being welcomed by another, Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky arrived at the United Center on Thursday amid much hype and fanfare.
The Blackhawks used the same pep-rally style of news conference they employed when Patrick Kane won Rookie of the Year honors last year. Behind Hossa and Kopecky were fans, made up mostly of kids, who cheered as both Hawks were brought up to the podium.
"This organization is going in the right direction," said Hossa, who signed a 12-year, $62.8 million deal. "It's a great thing to happen to me.
"I'm looking forward to moving here and being here a long time."
Both players were part of the Detroit Red Wings team that eliminated the Hawks from the Western Conference finals last season.
"We needed to get some of their players on our side," said Stan Bowman, who replaced Dale Tallon as GM.
Hossa was a 40-goal scorer last season and will be 42 when his contract expires. Even at 30, he'll be the second-oldest player on the Blackhawks, who were the youngest team in the NHL.
"I played with a 47-year-old last year [Chris Chelios], and I learned lots from him, but we'll see," Hossa said. "I would love to [play until 42.]"
Kopecky's big concern was finding a kindergarden for his son Jakub, but he is more than excited to be joining the Hawks.
"This is unbelievable for me," he said. "I've never experienced anything like this. This franchise is committed to winning."
As for the GM change, it surprised Hossa, but he seemed pleased Tallon would remain with the club as senior adviser. Hossa said Bowman will do "great things," but he admitted meeting him for the first time on Thursday.
Hossa had an interesting reaction to recent comments made by his friend Martin Havlat, who the Hawks let go to sign Hossa. Havlat has painted a bleak picture for the Hawks, but Hossa said Havlat told him: "Chicago is a great organization. You will love playing there."
The Hawks want to move past their recent front-office change, and this was the first step. Now comes the convention with both the front office and team personnel in place.
"We're just two regular guys coming to Chicago", Hossa said.