Hossa upset, 'still not feeling like myself'

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Hossa upset, 'still not feeling like myself'

Marian Hossa is recovering from the concussion-inducing hit Phoenix forward Raffi Torres put on him last month, but the Blackhawks forward said he's "still not feeling like myself."

Hossa is back in his native Slovakia for the summer, as he recovers from the hit that cost him the rest of the playoffs and led to Torres' 25-game suspension that he is now appealing. Hossa said he's getting better step by step, but that the process has been a slow one.

"Let's put it this way: it's not fun," said Hossa via conference call on Thursday. "Especially the first few days (I was) sitting in a dark room and one week sleeping at home. That wasn't fun. The good thing is I can move around now and things are bothering me less than before. So that's a good sign. It's small steps."

Hossa doesn't remember the hit itself. He remembers trying to make a play just before it, he remembers a little bit about being in the ambulance and then his time at the hospital.

"I saw the replay a few days later and that's basically how I remembered," said Hossa.

Hossa said he did hear from Torres a few days after the hit; the phone call was brief, and Hossa did tell the Coyotes forward what he thought.

"I told him I was upset about the jump. If he wouldn't jump, maybe I'm hit but he wouldn't hit my head and he wouldn't (be suspended) 25 games," Hossa said. "The phone call was pretty quick and that was it."

Hossa's doing daily activities now and has some time here before he would normally start training for hockey season. He hopes to be ready in time for 2012-13, but he said right now it's tough to set a timetable on when he can begin training.

"It all depends. I'll take a month and not do anything and then I'll slowly do little things, maybe some biking. I'll talk to the trainers and take it step by step. It's a long time until training camp and I have a long time to recover, so I have a lot of time in front of me," said Hossa, who is still upset with the hit.

"It made me angry," he said. "I don't want to see this stuff in hockey."

Even if winning takes time, Illini right to be excited about Lovie Smith's arrival

Even if winning takes time, Illini right to be excited about Lovie Smith's arrival

“Everything has been positive, which you would expect. When you’ve never lost a game at a place, normally it’s pretty positive, right?”

Lovie Smith … the comedian?

The comment — delivered Tuesday on Day 2 of Big Ten Media Days — wasn’t exactly side-splitting, but it was a surprising moment of levity from Smith, who’s returned to the Land of Lincoln to resurrect another orange-and-blue football program.

The joke was a nice little representation of the immense amount of excitement and positivity surrounding the program, something that couldn’t have been fathomed when the Illini finished another bowl-less season in November. The campaign started with Tim Beckman’s firing a week before the opener, then plodded through a 5-7 finish before ending on an uninspiring note with Bill Cubit’s head-scratching two-year contract, announced ahead of the finale against Northwestern.

But new athletics director Josh Whitman took swift action in dismissing Cubit and replacing him with Smith, a huge name — especially in these parts — with a track record of NFL success that brings instant credibility and a reason to pay attention to a program that only was making headlines for the wrong reasons.

Instantaneously, thanks to that eye-popping hire, feelings about the Illini changed.

“Sometimes when things haven’t gone the way people would like, change is good and you get excited about change and seeing what could possibly be,” Smith said Tuesday. “We all have histories on what we’ve done in our past. Hopefully that’s helped a little bit.”

Smith has brought reason to pay attention to Illinois football, but he warned that the overnight transition from boredom to excitement likely won’t be mirrored in the win-loss column. Smith still has to recruit multiple classes of players to stock his program, and while there are several talented players currently on the roster, a departure from losing seasons might still be a ways off.

“I can’t tell you we’re going to win every game,” Smith said. “I really don’t know how many games we’re going to win. The number of games our talent level says we should win, that’s what we want to do. We want to play up to our potential each week. That’s our goal each practice, each week. If we can do that, I think we’ll be OK. We were a five-win team last year. We know we need to improve upon that, and we will.”

And perhaps that’s why much of the talk Tuesday was focused on recruiting and building the future of this program. This is still mostly the same roster that Beckman built, and he never finished a season with an above-.500 record. Illinois has been to just five bowl games in the 21st century, only four in the past 14 years.

Thankfully for the Illini and their fans, Smith has plenty of advantages to breed recruiting success.

His name recognition alone ought to help, particularly in the state where he led the Bears for nine seasons, winning three division titles and earning a trip to Super Bowl XLI.

“The Chicago area — I can’t talk specifics about recruiting — one message we’ve got is ‘Lovie, we already know you. You’ve been in our homes on Sunday quite a bit.’ It has helped a little bit.

“They’re seeing my face, and that’s the first step, just getting them to come down and look at our university. And we’ve got a lot of players to come and see our university.”

And Smith is looking elsewhere, too, hoping to attract talent from all over. Even if kids in Indiana, Missouri and Texas didn’t grow up as Bears fans, they’re still sure to listen when a former NFL head coach walks through the door.

“They're listening to us. And that's all we want. Give us a chance,” Smith said. “Not just Chicago area. There's a triangle of the St. Louis area, of course. And Indianapolis there's a triangle. I'm from Texas. So we'll, of course, recruit that area. We have a lot of players on our team from the Florida area also. So recruiting is going well. And it's been a while since I've been in college ball. That has changed a little bit. It is a 24/7 job. And we're embracing that.”

There’s a reason Smith and Whitman have traversed the state trying to crank the excitement up even higher. There’s a reason Smith has met with fraternities and sororities in Champaign. There’s a reason the Illini are trying to pack Memorial Stadium and plastering up billboards in Chicago.

Everyone wants instant results, and if Illinois doesn’t get them in Year 1 under Smith, folks might think this is just more of the same with a new head coach, more of the losing that reigned throughout the eras of Ron Turner, Ron Zook, Beckman and Cubit.

But Smith wanted to promise that those days are in the past, no matter what the win-loss record looks like at the end of 2016.

“Every function we’ve been to — and we’ve been through a lot — has been that way,” Smith said of the current mood of excitement and optimism. “It’s the same message as our players have given: ‘Coach, what do we need to do?’ And for our fans, the message is come back, the message to our students. There’s nothing like student excitement in Memorial Stadium. From talking to the fraternities, the sororities, we need their energy in the stadium wearing the orange and blue. All of those things, University of Illinois bumper stickers, whatever it is, let people know who you believe in.

“Don’t worry about what’s happened in the past. It’s about today.”

CSN to air five Blackhawks preseason games

CSN to air five Blackhawks preseason games

The Blackhawks announced their 2016 preseason television broadcast schedule on Tuesday, and you can catch five of the six total contests here on Comcast SportsNet. 

The Blackhawks will open their preseason slate on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on CSN Plus when the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. Their six-game slate comes against just three opponents as they will face the Penguins, Blues and Red Wings twice over the span of two weeks. 

Ticket information for the 2016 preseason will be announced at a later date. 

Here is the Blackhawks' full preseason television broadcast schedule:

Penn State and negative recruiting becomes hot topic at Big Ten Media Days

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Penn State and negative recruiting becomes hot topic at Big Ten Media Days

Urban Meyer was taken aback.

Did he or his coaching staff participate in “negative recruiting” against Penn State? Meaning, does Ohio State tell recruits that the continuing fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal will result in future NCAA sanctions?

Meyer didn’t seem to know what to say.

“That's the first time I've heard that," he said.

The question stemmed from comments Penn State head coach James Franklin made in an interview with the Reading Eagle that was published over the weekend.

Franklin is still in the process of dragging his program out of the shadow of the Sandusky scandal, which resulted in NCAA sanctions that reduced the number of scholarships and banned the Nittany Lions from bowl participation for multiple seasons.

That’s all done with now — the bowl ban lifted two seasons ago and Franklin telling reporters Monday that he’s back to a full allotment of 85 scholarships — but Franklin said his team is still short on seniors and the scandal’s effects still loom. Most notably, that’s coming in the form of new developments, new reports of who knew what and when during Joe Paterno’s decades-long tenure in State College.

In that interview, Franklin seemed to accuse Penn State’s Big Ten East Division rivals — Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State — of telling kids on the recruiting trail that more punishments are coming with every new development.

Here’s what he told the Reading Eagle:

“We're able to tell kids they're going to compete against the very highest level week in and week out,” Franklin said when asked what it’s like having those three powerhouse programs in the same division as Penn State. “What makes it tricky, they're not having to deal with some of the things we're dealing with and working through, which magnifies it. Those programs as well as others know that and use that against us. We have that conversation with every single prospect. We don't usually initiate it, but it's coming from somewhere.”

Elsewhere during the interview, he had this to say:

“The one thing that I can't predict is when there is going to be finality to everything. A month ago, I'm in Chicago at a wedding of one of my former players and the most recent things (from the Sandusky scandal) come up. I spend all Friday and Saturday on the phone talking to all of our players because other schools are contacting them and telling them the NCAA is going to get involved again and impose more sanctions.

“The people we're competing with — Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame — this is just not something they have to deal with. Although we want to move on, those other schools are not letting us move on.”

As Meyer said Tuesday, those sound like some pretty serious allegations.

“I'll address that with Coach Franklin if that is an issue," he said. "That's a pretty strong allegation that I've not heard yet. So that's not been presented to me until this moment. Absolutely not. We've got a great deal of respect for every school in our conference. And we don't worry about that stuff. I'm glad you told me that. If that's true, I'll address that."

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio was asked the same question.

“From my standpoint, I have not said anything negative about Penn State. And hopefully our coaches have not as well,” Dantonio said. “So I was surprised to read that. I don't know what happens out there on the road completely. But it's not our MO. And that's not how we do business.”

Franklin tried to clear up his comments after the story picked up steam, telling Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman that he didn’t accuse those schools of any negative recruiting.

Additionally, Franklin received his own allegation on Tuesday morning.

Who knows what’s actually going on between coaches and high school prospects. Certainly coaches taking swipes at each other is nothing new, nor is the win-at-all-costs arena of college football recruiting.

Still, it added some drama to the second day of Big Ten Media Days.