- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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John Madden returned to practice on Saturday for the first time since injuring his knee in a game against Dallas on Feb. 9. Madden missed the final two games before the Olympic break, and says he’s hopeful to play Tuesday against the Islanders.
“I felt pretty good. I was actually surprised,” Madden said. “I didn’t engage in any contact or anything like that, but just skating felt pretty good.
“I’m hoping to [play]. I’m being optimistic about it but at the same time I don’t want to rush back too soon.”
He and coach Joel Quenneville agreed a lot will be determined after Sunday’s practice when Madden “works more in the corners” and picks up the pace a notch.
The injury occurred very quickly as Madden went on the ice for a shift.
“I jumped on the ice and there was a turnover at our blueline and I was headed out [on the ice] and Steeger [Kris Versteeg] was coming in to hit the guy that originally had the puck and we went knee on knee,” Madden explained. “I was on the ice for, like, two seconds before it happened. I thought I just tweaked my knee; it turned out to be a little more than that.”
Madden reiterated that with the Hawks fairly healthy, there is no need to rush into anything. The Hawks play four games in six nights after the break is over.
Quenneville is sticking to his normal policy of announcing Tuesday’s starting goaltender the day before the game. As of Saturday, neither Antti Niemi nor Cristobal Huet, claim to know who will be in net.
Quenneville indicated that all six (plus video coach Brad Aldrich) Hawk Olympians would fly to New York on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s game against the Islanders.
The Hawks will hold a “Roadwatch” party on Sunday at ESPN Zone (43 E. Ohio) for the gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada. Radio announcer John Wiedeman and public address announcer Gene Honda will host the event with the Ice Crew in attendance as well.
Hawk games on March 7 and 14 have been picked up by NBC-TV. Start times for both those games will be 11:30 a.m.
17dDarren Rovell and Katie Strang