Hossa returns to Chicago, happy to be cleared

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Hossa returns to Chicago, happy to be cleared

Marian Hossa heard those wonderful little words, youre cleared, from the Blackhawks medial staff back in mid-November. It had been a lengthy road for the right wing, who worked back from a concussion he suffered in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

Yes, Hossa is ready to play whenever the NHL is. And if the lockout culminates in another lost season, Hossa may look at overseas options.

It definitely feels good to be cleared, said Hossa, who was skating in Chicago on Monday after spending the last few weeks skating in Florida. Basically after all the testing Ive done I feel really comfortable with myself. Right now, Im skating with the guys, Im feeling good, and when the season starts, Ill be ready.

When the season starts is, of course, the uncertain point. Monday was Day 93 of the lockout, with both the league and NHLPA looking at their legal options. As of now, there are no talks scheduled between the two sides. Instead, the NHLPA began voting Sunday on whether or not to authorize its executive board to dissolve the union (a la disclaimer of interest). Players have five days to vote. The league, meanwhile, filed a class-action complaint in federal court and an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

For Hossa, its frustrating going through this again; he was coming off his final season with the Ottawa Senators when the 2004-05 season was canceled.

Its definitely not fun, he said. Were getting to that point where sooner or later well know if the season will start. Were all hoping for a season and well see in the next couple of weeks.

As frustrating as the lockout is, the first few weeks of it helped Hossa, health-wise.

Its kind of funny; the lockout worked for me in the beginning because I didnt have to rush anywhere. I took my time, especially with the head injury, he said. You definitely dont want to return early from that

Hossa started skating with Blackhawks staff back in early October, about six months after he suffered that season-ending concussion from Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. Hossa said those early skates werent easy.

I definitely had five weeks of extremely high-tempo practices with the conditioning and skating coach (Kevin Delaney), he said. But I felt really good afterward.

So now Hossa waits, as does everyone else involved in the lockout. Hes ready to suit up for the Blackhawks, but if need be will play elsewhere. And hes not worried any lingering issues with the concussion.

Its been a while. Thats why I wanted to make sure I was practicing hard here with the staff and they did an excellent job. We took our time and I was at the level where I felt comfortable. Felt like I was before (the concussion) and that was important for me, he said. When I got cleared, that was the time, if the season started, that I could play.

In the next few weeks we have to get a result (on if there isisnt an NHL season). Hopefully its a positive one, Hossa said. If not, Ill do the next step and maybe look for other options.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Rangers: Duels and denied goals

Five Things from Blackhawks-Rangers: Duels and denied goals

There are a lot of similarities between the Blackhawks and the New York Rangers. Both have a nice record to start this season and both are getting through recent injuries as best they can.

And thanks to their goaltending, they had a pretty fun little battle on Friday night.

Antti Raanta edged Scott Darling as the Rangers took a 1-0 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Friday. It was surprising that Raanta got the start, only because he had started for the Rangers on Thursday against Winnipeg. But he’s been hot, he’s good at the United Center in his career and obviously it was the right decision.

The Blackhawks are back at it on Sunday against another team going through its injury issues, the Dallas Stars. Before then, however, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ overtime loss to the Rangers.

1. A familiar goalie duel. Two seasons ago Scott Darling and Antti Raanta were fighting for the Blackhawks’ backup goaltending spot. So it seemed fitting that they face each other on Friday night. They didn’t disappoint. Each goaltender had his share of stellar stops, many coming in the second period as each team looked for an edge. Raanta got the victory, running his record at the United Center to 15-0-3. The two had a quick, good-natured talk at the end of the game. “It was all friendly,” Darling said. “We were just saying, ‘good job’ and we’re happy for one another.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

2. Kane alright. Patrick Kane got the concussion protocol call in the second period a few moments after he was hit into the glass by Nick Holden. After Kane was called for high-sticking he was sent to the locker room, returning as the Blackhawks went on their first power play of the night at 17:28 of the second period.

3. The Rangers’ successful challenge. Just when you thought the Blackhawks were taking a 1-0 lead the third period (Marian Hossa), the Rangers challenged for offside. They won, nullifying Hossa’s attempt at his 15th goal of the season. Hossa was disappointed, and is frustrated at how some of the rule changes are taking away goals when the league is trying to increase scoring. Coach Joel Quenneville, when asked if he’d like the rule changed if he could, laughed. “Right now? Sure.”

4. A better all-around game. We may be harping on the Blackhawks’ injury situation but when you’re missing three key guys (Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford) it’s going to alter your game. But the Blackhawks played a strong all-around game against the Rangers and had some good scoring chances. All things considered, and against a very good Rangers team, Quenneville liked what he saw. “We know they’re a dangerous team off the rush, a lot of guys can make plays, a ton of speed. You have to respect that in ways and they check well in their own end,” Quenneville said. “I thought we did some good things. I think on the rush game we did a good job of taking away that danger.”

5. When will the Blackhawks return to health? Yeah, we’re looking ahead a little bit on this one, and we may have a clearer picture by Saturday morning. If Toews and Seabrook are skating and come out of the session well, there’s a chance they could play on Sunday. The Blackhawks have done alright despite the injuries. But you have to wonder when they start feeling a bit depleted.