Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa won’t back out of Olympics
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 3, 2014 10:38PM
Hawks winger Marian Hossa (81) scored in the third period Friday night against the New Jersey Devils to snap a seven-game goal drought. | Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Updated: February 5, 2014 6:05AM
NEWARK, N.J. — Marian Hossa braced for the possibility that his back would cause him problems this season. Joel Quenneville prepared for the likelihood that he’d have to give Hossa nights off, particularly in back-to-back games, to keep him going strong.
But more than halfway through the season, Hossa’s feeling far better than he expected. He has missed only three games because of injury and none because of his back.
“It’s been good,” Hossa said. “I’m surprised how good it is. I’m happy.”
So much so, in fact, that Hossa’s not at all entertaining the idea of staying home for the Olympics and taking the nearly three weeks off to rest and prepare for the playoff push. He’s one of Slovakia’s all-time greatest players, and the bitter memories of his nation’s near-mammoth upset of Canada in the 2010 semifinals in Vancouver still linger.
“When you have the opportunity to play for your country in a huge tournament like that, it’s amazing,” he said. “If you don’t make it, you have lots of time off, and you can heal. So there are benefits both ways. But I’d rather play.”
Hossa said he has been in contact with Slovakian team officials to discuss the possible look of the team. While Canada and the United States anguish over choosing the 25 best players, the task is slightly different for smaller countries. Hossa’s younger brother, Marcel, a former NHL player, has 17 goals and 17 assists in 39 games for Dinamo Riga in the KHL and is a candidate to be on the team, as well.
“We don’t have as many worries and options as Team USA,” Hossa said. “We basically kind of know who is going to be on the team.”
Hossa scored his first goal in eight games Friday night to end his longest drought of the season. But with linemates Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews hot, Hossa had five assists in those seven games and continued to play the two-way game that makes him one of the league’s top forwards.
“I know the goals will come if I do the other things right,” he said. “So that’s why I try not to pay attention to that.”