Fans can't wait until Marian Hossa slips on his Penguins game jersey for the first time.
That almost surely will take place tomorrow in Boston.
The Penguins acquired Hossa, a five-time All-Star right winger, from the Atlanta Thrashers yesterday at the NHL trading deadline in exchange for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, 2007 first-round pick Angelo Esposito and a future first-rounder.
The blockbuster deal had the Penguins' fans pumped up last night at Station Square.
"I think it was an outstanding trade," said Larry DeNobile, assistant general manager at Hard Rock Cafe.
"Anytime you deal fans' favorites like Colby and Christensen away, people aren't going to be happy at first," said Dave Uram, operations manger at the Hard Rock. "But once you sit back and realize that you got a high-profile guy in return like Hossa, you know what a fantastic deal it was.
"I think it shows the Penguins want to win now and want to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup."
Penguins general manager Ray Shero can only hope that's the case. His decision to deal for Hossa, a 40-goal scorer last year, invoked memories of two deals then-general manager Craig Patrick engineered in 1991 and '92 that served as a springboard for back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.
On March 4, 1991, Patrick obtained Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings from the Hartford Whalers for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker.
On Feb, 19, 1992, Patrick acquired Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget from the Philadelphia Flyers in return for Mark Recchi, Brian Benning and a first-round draft pick.
"I was surprised, " said Betsy Robinson, a senior at Duquesne University who works at Hometowne Sports. "I hadn't heard Hossa's name being tossed around at all. I don't think anyone thought he'd be coming here, but I'm happy he is."
Cora Koftic, a junior at Duquesne who works at Houlihan's, was not thrilled with the trade. "I think it's going to hurt the team's morale," she said. "I think we're going to miss Armstrong and Christensen more than people think."
Hossa, making $7 million this season, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Forward Pascal Dupuis, the other player the Penguins got from the Thrashers, also will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"I'm sure people are a little skeptical because Hossa may just be a rental player for the rest of the year," DeNobile said.
Hossa very well could end up on the same line as Sidney Crosby once the reigning NHL scoring champion and MVP returns from a high ankle sprain that has kept him out of the lineup since Jan. 18.
"The Penguins know what they got in this deal -- Hossa is a proven player," said Larry Ciccone of Pittsburgh, who watched the Penguins' win against the New York Islanders at Buckhead Saloon last night.
"The Thrashers don't know what they got totally. None of us know for sure how good Esposito can be."
Seth Clouser of Bridgeville believes Shero deserves kudos for his gutsy move.
"I can't wait to see what happens once Hossa gets going and Crosby comes back and they get all their lines set," Clouser said. "I think the Penguins will be one of the best teams in the league."
Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .