Hossa's agent breaks silence, says rumors way off-base
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Penguins general manager Ray Shero and Marian Hossa's agent, Ritch Winter, had agreed not to speak with reporters about the negotiations for a new contract. But rampant speculation -- and what Winter termed misinformation -- prompted the agent to break his silence yesterday.
Several media outlets have reported that the Penguins extended a contract offer of between $50-52 million over seven years to Hossa, but Winter said those reports were off-base.
"The newspaper and television reports generated so far are completely inaccurate," Winter said. "None of the information has come from the principles involved in the discussions. Ray Shero and I have not spoken with anyone about a contract, so I have no idea where the information is coming from. There is not even one basic piece of information from those reports that are true."
Hossa, it appears, is the top priority for the Penguins, who are awaiting a decision from him before moving on to their other free agents. Hossa, who made $7 million last season, said during the Stanley Cup playoffs that money was not the overriding factor in a new contract. He indicated that he would take less money from the Penguins because they have a chance to win a championship.
The Penguins' other top priorities among potential free agents are defenseman Brooks Orpik and winger Ryan Malone. The Penguins have not begun negotiations with Orpik, but Lewis Gross, Orpik's agent, is scheduled to meet with Shero at the NHL draft this weekend in Ottawa.
Tuesday night, Malone's agent, Mike Liut, said Malone is "looking at better than a 50-50 chance that he'll be changing teams." Malone's situation seems contingent upon what Hossa does. If Hossa signs a long-term contract with the Penguins, Malone almost assuredly will sign elsewhere. If Hossa does not sign a deal, the Penguins could make a push to sign Malone.
The other Penguins who can become unrestricted free agents July 1 are Jarkko Ruutu, Gary Roberts, Pascal Dupuis, Adam Hall, Georges Laraque, Jeff Taffe, Kris Beech, Mark Eaton and Ty Conklin.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury could have become a restricted free agent July 1, but the Penguins filed for salary arbitration with Fleury last week. That move assured the Penguins that Fleury would be the team's goaltender next season and bought more time to work out a long-term contract.
First Published June 19, 2008 12:00 am