Andrew Shaw walked to the lectern, his right knee sporting a sizeable brace.
The forward suffered an injury to that knee to start the Minnesota Wild series, returning in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. Even then, he wasn’t fully healed.
“Obviously it was painful but at a time like that, you feel like the team needs you and you want to be a part of it,” he said. “So you push through it.”
Shaw, who said he’ll just need some rehab this summer and will be ready to go in the fall, probably wasn’t the only Blackhawks player pushing through an injury. But he was the only one talking openly about them on Tuesday, when the team had their final season interviews at the United Center.
Coach Joel Quenneville did say defenseman Johnny Oduya was hurt in Game 7 on Sunday, and it sounds like it was serious.
“I’m not sure he would have been in the next round,” Quenneville said. “We didn’t know that until after the game, but Johnny, (Niklas Hjalmarsson), you could talk about a bunch of different guys but everybody’s dealing with some type of baggage, so it’s what it is.”
Otherwise, whether they were downplaying aches and pains or didn’t want to use them as excuses, players weren’t talking much about their baggage on Tuesday.
“I think at this point of the year everybody’s got something going on. I’m not going to make any excuses for the way I played at different stretches of the playoffs,” said Sharp, who struggled through the postseason. He did, however, add that, “it’ll be nice to have a little bit of a longer summer than last year to be ready to go next year.”
Marian Hossa has played a tremendous amount of hockey these past few seasons. He played in three consecutive Stanley Cup finals, suffering a back injury midway through the Blackhawks’ series with the Boston Bruins last June. This June, however, Hossa said he enters the offseason feeling good.
“I feel fine,” he said. “Obviously disappointed how everything finished. But health-wise, from the problems I had at the beginning of the season with my back, I can consider [myself] pretty healthy.”
Duncan Keith’s also logged a lot of hockey the last few seasons; he also logs a lot of minutes on a nightly basis.
“Obviously there were a lot of hockey games, even going back to last season. But this is what we do,” he said. “We do it because we love it. Obviously we make a pretty good living at it. There are always going to be times throughout the season you feel more fatigued than others. But that’s just part of the grind and getting through that mentally.”
Hjalmarsson certainly took his lumps as the Blackhawks’ leading shot blocker. He took a shot to the throat in Game 2 vs. Minnesota but never missed a shift, let alone a game – he sported a neck guard through most of the remaining postseason. But he said, for all the in-season punishment, he felt OK.
“It’s not too bad,” he said. “It’s pretty hard during the playoffs. It’s intense. It’s more of a battle than the regular season. But I can’t complain about too many injuries right now.”