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.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How do Friday's blockbuster deals impact the Blackhawks going forward

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How do Friday's blockbuster deals impact the Blackhawks going forward

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Tracey Myers and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the Blackhawks' blockbuster deals involving Niklas Hjalmarsson being dealt to Arizona and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from Columbus in exchange for Artemi Panarin.

They also discuss what it means for the team going forward, and whether it's a precursor to bigger deals to come.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below.

In Saad’s case, re-acquiring Blackhawks alumni is beneficial

In Saad’s case, re-acquiring Blackhawks alumni is beneficial

* “Don’t look to the past anymore. It’s great to think you can recapture the magic with former players but years go by and times change.”

The sentences you see above were written by yours truly after the Blackhawks were unceremoniously eliminated from the first round in April. And for the most part, I stand by the message. The Blackhawks kept going back to their alumni well for solutions but, for the most part, it wasn’t working. But there’s always an exception to the rule, always one asterisk that can be applied in every situation (as we’ve done here).

In this case, that exception is Brandon Saad.

This isn’t someone who played with the Blackhawks five or more years ago. This isn’t a player who’s in his 30s. This isn’t a player who’s at the end of his career. This is a player in his prime, a 24-year-old who has a whole lot of game remaining and a whole lot of familiarity with this group, especially captain Jonathan Toews.

By the way, anyone else struck by the irony that the same Saad deal that the Blackhawks couldn’t afford two years ago is now one that fits perfectly, and will be really beneficial in two seasons when they don’t have to worry about trying to re-sign Artemi Panarin, who will be an unrestricted free agent?

Anyway, back to revisiting the past. General manager Stan Bowman admitted that he was hoping to bring Saad back into the fold at some point, although talks for this particular deal didn’t heat up until the past few days.

“Certainly it was a tough move a couple of years ago to have to make that trade [of Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015]," Bowman said. “Today my conversation had a much different tone. Brandon’s coming back and that chemistry is there right away and intensity and the way he plays. His all-around game is second to none.”

Saad said he wondered if he’d end up with the Blackhawks again at some point in his career.

“The day I was traded I talked with Stan and you part ways, but it’s a small league and there are always opportunities. It was definitely a thought in my mind possibly ending up in Chicago,” he said. “I didn’t think it’d happen this soon but that’s just the way it happened. It’s exciting to be back somewhere I’m comfortable, somewhere I know and an organization that’s had success.”

Yes, the Blackhawks went back to their alumni well. But instead of getting an aging veteran they’ve reacquired a kid in his prime. Every situation can come with an asterisk. This is one exception that will turn out well for the Blackhawks.