During this lengthy and nonsensical NHL lockout, fans were looking for any sort of positive that they could possibly find. There weren’t many. For the Chicago Blackhawks there was essentially one positive: health.
That fact may relate to Jonathan Toews, who was recovering from a concussion, as well as Steve Montador, but mostly it related to Marian Hossa. The veteran forward was able to spend this lockout working with the team’s training staff to finally get cleared after sustaining a brutal hit in last year’s playoffs.
Raffi Torres will miss much of the shortened season after a hit that very well could have ended Hossa’s career. He literally did not know where he was for stretches during his recovery. Torres left his skates and delivered a shoulder to Hossa’s head, leading to Hossa being carried out on a stretcher.
Few expected Hossa to be ready for the regular season, had it started on time. He was cleared a few weeks ago, though he has yet to take any contact. That will be the final test for him, as he attempts to come back and reach the high level that he played at for most of last season.
Hossa put together his best season as a Blackhawk, and actually his healthiest prior to taking that hit in the postseason. Despite the fact that he’s not exactly young anymore, he’s still playing at an extremely high level and is one of the better two-way forwards in the entire league.
The fact that he is healthy, as well as the captain, is a tremendous boost for this hockey team as they head into the new season. The fact that he was able to work with the Blackhawks staff during the lockout, given his injury status, is also a positive. But as frustrating as it is that this lockout took as long as it did, it’s reassuring to know that it’s almost a certainty that Marian Hossa will be in the lineup on Opening Night.