SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa described his back as “much stronger” and “better” following the first day of training camp at Notre Dame on Thursday, but he thought Friday’s scrimmage would be the true test.
Hossa suffered a back injury during the Stanley Cup finals last season. He said one of the discs in his back was shooting into his nerves, and he couldn’t feel his right foot. He was scratched from Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals and returned for Game 4, but he wasn’t as effective the last three games. Hossa was able to avoid surgery in the offseason.
Hossa participated fully in Thursday’s practice and was hopeful he’d be cleared to participate in Friday’s scrimmage.
“I would like to be,” Hossa said. “I got to talk to the coaches and staff, but I believe I will be. I really want to be because I want to test myself whether it’s OK or not.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said later Thursday that Hossa would play in the scrimmage. Quenneville also said Michal Rozsival and Michal Handzus will be held out of scrimmages for a few days, but they will participate in practices.
Hossa, who will turn 35 in January, said he’s learned how to take care of his body better after a variety of injuries over the years. He played in 40 games last season (not counting playoffs) and had 31 points.
“What I found is everybody’s body is a little bit different,” Hossa said. “But for myself, you have to take the time to really heal yourself. I think that’s really important. I know the summer wasn’t too long, but I had lots of time off, and I started slowly again. Like when I had the concussion, I took my time. So I feel like on the ice my back is much, much stronger and better. For me, that’s the key. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be skating or having contact if I had a little doubt in my head.”
Quenneville also thought he may have to watch Hossa's minutes.
“I think that’s something we’re always aware of -- health and in different situations and backing off guys, whether it’d being practice days, ice time in games,” Quenneville said. “Hossa, I don’t want to say he’s getting older, but if you’re not ready to play, you’re not ready to play. I think that’s something we’ll watch. It’s nice to see he’s started here and he’s ready to go. But that … works itself out. We have a pretty good feel on our training staff, doctors, players and coach.”