While we hockey fans can’t help but be upset about a lockout that looks like it will cancel at least the beginning of the season, there can be a silver lining.
Over the course of every season, NHL teams get banged up. Some teams get lucky and only have to deal with a few minor injuries, while some teams, including last season’s Chicago Blackhawks have to worry about long-term injuries.
The worst injuries of the season seemed to come at the worst of times for the Hawks during their 2011-12 campaign, as they lost Jonathan Toews to a concussion for all of March and Marian Hossa went down with a bad concussion after a disastrous hit from Raffi Torres in game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Patrick Kane began the season coming off of wrist surgery he had shortly before training camp and Corey Crawford was having issues with his groin during the preseason. Neither of these players missed significant time, but playing hurt at the beginning of the year arguably could have had long-term effects on each of them, considering they had down seasons.
Will nobody wants to miss games because of a lockout, the Blackhawks could benefit from some extra rest. Toews has said that he’s been feeling much better over the summer, but extra time for Hossa to recover can only help. Kane said he missed the IIHF World Tournament in the spring so he could focus on his health and who knows if Crawford was fully healthy down the stretch. The Blackhawks, as well as most other teams around the league, are very quiet about injuries, which opens the door to speculation.
Let’s not forget about Steve Montador, who missed nearly two months with a concussion and played only 4:20 in his March 27 return before he was back on injured reserve with what appeared to be another concussion. Montador missed the rest of the season as well as the playoffs. A full offseason and then some could go a long way for the veteran defenseman.
Some players who were healthy last season but could benefit from an extended offseason are Dave Bolland and Ray Emery. Bolland has had plenty of injuries in his young career, from back problems to concussions. Since appearing in 81 games in his first full season with the Hawks, Bolland appeared in 39 games the following year and 61 after that, followed by 76 last season. Emery was almost forced to retire due to avascular necrosis, a serious hip condition. More time to rest will hopefully have Emery sharper than he was last season.
As much as no one wants to see the NHL locked out, if games are cancelled, the Chicago Blackhawks should at least be nice and fresh when it’s time to hit the ice again.