Marian Hossa understands the residual effect of his recent injury-marred years.
The Chicago Blackhawks right wing may have to take practices off to maintain optimum health. The same may apply to games. But whatever Hossa has to do to keep his injuries to a minimum, he will.
Hossa returned to practice on Friday after dealing with an upper-body injury, possibly the back that bothered him in June, and is hoping he’ll be ready to roll when the Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals in their season opener on Tuesday. For Hossa, it’s just a byproduct of playing a lot of hockey the last few years, and dealing with some significant injuries through them.
“Last year was a long year for me. There were lots of hockey games; so many for me the last few years,” he said. “I want to make sure I take care of my body the right way. If I miss a couple of (games), I’ll do that. If I feel 100 percent, I’ll play.”
Following Friday’s practice, Hossa said he was “definitely much better after the week off. I took my time, and in the last few days I felt better.” He’s out for the Blackhawks’ preseason finale on Saturday night, but Oct. 1 is still the goal. Hossa didn’t want to specify if the injury was his back or not; last week, when Hossa was first sidelined, coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa “aggravated” an upper-body injury.
Quenneville said the Blackhawks will monitor Hossa, as they do every player, in terms of rest and play/practice schedule.
“With any player, health is a priority,” he said. “Whether it’s the frequency of games, back to backs, ice time or dressing that night. When they’re capable of going, go. If not, we’ll be smart.”
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When he’s 100 percent, Hossa is one of the best players in the league. With or without the puck, he makes things happen. When he’s not 100 percent, it’s noticeable. Hossa gritted through a back injury, a nerve pinching a disk, last June missing Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. Even when he did return in Game 4, it was obvious he wasn’t close to healthy.
Hossa weathered a big injury through the Cup run, like so many players do. Now we’re looking at October and another grueling 82-game schedule. Hossa will do what’s necessary to stay as healthy as possible to play as long as possible.
“I’m going to be 35 years old (in January), so there’ll be more injuries than when I was younger,” he said. “I’ll take care of (my injury) now and hopefully it’ll be healthy the rest of the year. I’ll try to go into the season in a positive way and keep up with the young guys.”