Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa back at practice, might play Friday
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com February 21, 2013 1:32PM
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, from Slovakia, lays motionless on the ice after being hit in the back of the head by Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen, from Denmark, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 4-3 after the shootout phase of overtime. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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Updated: March 23, 2013 6:28AM
As Marian Hossa lay on the ice — in nearly the exact same spot he lay last April, only this time face down instead of face up — he remembered the Raffi Torres hit that put him there in the spring. He remembered the frightening and painful symptoms of the concussion he suffered. And he remembered the long, arduous rehab process that didn’t end until mid-November.
“It’s a little natural,” Hossa said. “It comes to your mind.”
But Hossa also remembered what had just happened — Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen hitting him in the back of the head as the two jostled for an airborne puck. And while Hossa said he felt “shaky” for the first half hour after the third-period hit, the fact that he realized where he was and what had happened was actually quite encouraging.
“When I fell down, I kind of knew what happened,” Hossa said. “I realized what happened, so that was a good sign. I just was shaky right after. I knew it wasn’t going to be that bad like last time, because last time I didn’t remember anything.”
Hossa returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West. It was all good news for the Blackhawks on Thursday, in fact, as goaltender Corey Crawford and defenseman Brent Seabrook also returned to practice. Seabrook will play Friday as the Hawks try to break the NHL record of 16 straight games with at least a point to open the season.
Crawford has been cleared to play, but coach Joel Quenneville said Ray Emery will start his fourth straight game.
Hossa will be a gameday decision, based on how he feels in the morning.
“I had a good practice today,” Hossa said. “We’ll see how it is after I sleep and go to [Friday’s morning skate]. If I feel good, I’d like to play.”
Quenneville said he’ll take extra precautions with Hossa, based on his history. But if Hossa is good to go, and passes all the doctor’s tests and NHL protocols, he could play.
“We look at all those things,” Quenneville said. “You ask the player, ‘How you doing, can you play, do you feel like you’re ready — more than ready?’ And in his situation, I’m sure that’s going to be the criteria — more than ready.”
Hansen received a one-game suspension for the incident, which he and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault contended was simply a “hockey play,” with Hansen going for the puck.
Hossa felt otherwise.
“He said he was reaching for the puck,” Hossa said. “I don’t buy it. When you reach for the puck, you don’t hit somebody that hard to the head.”
Quenneville said he was “comfortable” with the suspension and the review process by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Hossa said a one-game ban was better than nothing.
“I think [Hansen deserved] at least something, because we don’t want to see guys hitting other guys in the head, especially from behind when they’re not prepared for it,” he said.
As for Crawford, who hasn’t played since a shootout loss against Anaheim last Tuesday — he took a hard hit to the head when Seabrook checked Bobby Ryan into the crease, then practiced Thursday, but didn’t feel well afterward — he was “excited” to be back on the ice. He declined to discuss any specifics of his injury, but said his conditioning level was good. It’s just a matter of getting his timing back to the level it was at during his red-hot start, before the injury.
“Timing was a little bit off, nothing crazy, but I felt really good [in practice],” he sad. “I was seeing the puck well and moving well, it’s just the timing was a little bit off. I’m sure I’ll be able to pick that up with a couple practices.”