An original edition of this story did not accurately include the author or original publication of this story. The story is written by Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. We sincerely apologize for the mistake.
CHICAGO — Marian Hossa wasn’t going to be sure he was completely recovered from a severe concussion until he absorbed a big hit and came away symptom-free.
That hit came courtesy of an accidental collision with Blackhawks teammate Brandon Bollig during a recent informal practice, and Hossa said Monday “it was a good test and I passed it I think.”
It has been a long journey back to normalcy for Hossa, who was injured in April on an illegal hit by the Coyotes’ Raffi Torres during the first round of the playoffs that sent the veteran winger to the hospital and concluded his season.
“Right now, when I step on the ice my head is clear,” Hossa said following Day 2 of training camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West. “I wasn’t like that before when I was still here in early November. I’m happy where I am.”
Hossa was cleared by the Hawks’ doctors in mid-November and spent the ensuing days skating with teammates and other NHL players both in Chicago and Florida while the lockout dragged on. Now that the season is approaching, it’s all systems go.
“It’s been a long time without hockey for me,” said Hossa, who turned 34 on Saturday. “I tried to stay in the best shape I could and so far I feel good.
“It took some time to get slowly a little bit better. But after that I was becoming more and more better and (more) clear. I knew it was going to come to the point I would feel comfortable and myself. About mid-November when I was cleared I felt good. I told them, ‘I feel like myself.’ “
Colliding with teammates before the Hawks’ opener against the Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon isn’t an ideal way to determine his status, but Hossa said he would not play things cautiously on the ice.
“You cannot just be playing careful hockey,” he said. “I just want to be myself and right now I feel that’s where I am. It will take a little bit to get going (but) hopefully it won’t take too long.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s difficult to avoid contact during a truncated training camp leading to the 48-game season.
“I talked to (Hossa) about it and certainly you watch that type of thing, that contact,” Quenneville said. “(But) we’ll have some bumping every day. At the same time, I’m sure after the first game we play in LA, everybody will say, ‘Oh, my God,’ while getting used to the real bumps. I think they’re getting tested.”
Hossa said he discussed with Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who missed much of the final two months of last season with a concussion, about attending the same Atlanta-area chiropractic neurology facility Toews did in November to complete his recovery, but was satisfied it wasn’t needed.
“I didn’t go because I was at that point I felt comfortable and I didn’t need to see anybody else,” Hossa said. “I did lots of good things with our guys here. Our trainers did an excellent job with me. It was six weeks and I had all the services and doctors I needed.”
For now, Hossa will concentrate on preparing for what promises to be a frenetic pace to the season.
“I feel fresh,” he said. “The timing and all of those types of things will be a factor because we haven’t played in so long. Conditionally, I believe I’m good, but it’s different than practice condition and game condition. Hopefully, the timing will be there soon.”