Injured Hawks playing conditioning catch-up

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Injured Hawks playing conditioning catch-up

Jonathan Toews came off the ice after the Blackhawks practice on Saturday, feeling good but nevertheless more winded than he wouldve been a few weeks ago.

Its just the lungs that hurt a little bit, said Toews after his third good skate in as many days. The normal kind of convenient practice for guys today was a little tougher on a guy like me.

For a player recovering from a concussion, the immediate recovery period means shutting things down: take it easy, very little exercise and no skating for a while. Its good advice, considering the severity and delicacy of the injury. And once the head does start healing, another fun part begins: getting back in shape.

Professional athletes spend so much time getting into tremendous shape, and its something they struggle to get back when returning from a concussion. Niklas Hjalmarsson is experiencing that, too, as Friday was just his second game since suffering his in early February. The defenseman is feeling great health-wise but said hes still playing cardio catch-up.

I felt that yesterday. The conditioning isnt quite there yet, he said. I havent really been in great shape since the all-star break; Ive been hurt pretty much ever since. Theres a lot of catching up to do.

Hjalmarsson did some sprints at the end of Saturdays practice, skating up and down the red line several times. Marcus Kruger did the same thing in December when he came back from his concussion, going through some tough on-ice workouts with skating and skills coach Kevin Delaney.

Its tough. The conditioning goes away so fast and it takes such a long time to build it up (in the first place), Hjalmarsson said. You just try to work hard on the ice and do a little extra off the ice and hopefully itll be back here real soon.

Toews said its tough, but its just part of the deal with this recovery.

Its the toughest injury for that reason: you cant be active, you have to sit around and do nothing, or as little as possible, he said. They say you can lose it pretty quick but a couple more skates like this, it comes back just as fast, too.

Be it Toews, Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador or anyone else recovering from a head injury, health is the first priority. Losing the conditioning is a tad frustrating, but it comes back again.

You just have to be able to be strong and push yourself through it and know that, when that first game (comes), its not going to be easy, Toews said. That game shape will come.

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Thursday: 

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

This is becoming Willson Contreras' team, whether or not Cubs add Alex Avila or another veteran catcher

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

That escalated quickly: Cubs just a game back of Brewers, could be in first place as soon as this weekend

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

Joe Maddon's prime-time message: 'Help or die'

Report: Derrick Rose is considering teaming up with LeBron James, Cavs

Cubs Talk Podcast: State of Cubs-Cardinals rivalry and what lies ahead

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Playing with the enemy: Chicago athletes who teamed up with rivals

Playing with the enemy: Chicago athletes who teamed up with rivals

Chicago's chosen son may soon play with the enemy. 

According to reports on Thursday, Derrick Rose is in talks to join LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on a one-year deal. 

That is indeed hard to imagine, considering the former MVP has spent years battling James for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. But leaving the Windy City to join a rival team isn't a new concept. 

In fact, a few Chicago superstar athletes have done it before: 

-- Chris Chelios, Blackhawks to Red Wings

One of the best defenseman in hockey, Chelios was traded to the Detroit Red Wings after nine productive seasons in Chicago. He hoisted a Stanley Cup not long after and finished his 10-year Red Wings career with 152 points and a plus-158. 

-- Julius Peppers, Bears to Packers

After becoming a cap casualty with the Bears, Peppers chose greener pastures in Wisconsin. The defensive end signed with the Green Bay Packers, where he's tallied 25 sacks in three seasons. 

-- Dexter Fowler, Cubs to Cardinals

Well, at least he won a ring here. Fowler's surprise return to the North Side in 2016 helped boost the Cubs to their first World Series trophy in 108 years, but after winning, the center fielder rightly opted for the money. He signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal in St. Louis last offseason. 

Watch the video above as Siera Santos and Kelly Crull relive the heartbreak.