- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Marian Hossa's Chicago Blackhawks teammates defended his decision Wednesday to sit out Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals with an injury after former NHL player Tony Amonte questioned Hossa's toughness.
"I think a lot of those guys can say what they want, but they don't really know what's going on and what the situation is," Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said after the team's morning skate at TD Garden. "Sometimes if you don't know what's going on, you're better off to not say anything at all and just let it play out the way it is.
"It's the Stanley Cup final, everyone is playing through injuries, bruises and scars, whatever it may be. Everyone is trying to do their best to get out there and play as best as they can, sometimes it's just something you can't do. Hopefully, we get him back (for Game 4). He's a huge part of our lineup. We all feel that he's a tough guy in here. He's accomplished so much in his career, so for people to say that about him and not really know what's going on, I think they're better off just leaving it be."
Hossa, who has not spoken to the media since missing Game 3, is expected to play in Game 4, according to coach Joel Quenneville, who brushed off Amonte's comments.
"If he could play, he would play, so we don't need to discuss that," Quenneville said. "We know how competitive he is and what he means to our team."
Amonte, who played nine seasons for the Blackhawks from 1993-2002, went on Boston's WEEI-FM on Tuesday and questioned Hossa's decision not to play.
"You're in the Stanley Cup finals. I think you play until you can't play anymore," said Amonte, who is a Bruins analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England. "You give whatever you can to your organization, and that's the way most guys will do it."
After participating in the pregame warm-up in Game 3, Hossa was a surprise late scratch Monday. NBC reported that Hossa was hit with a puck during warm-ups, which was refuted by Quenneville. Hossa was replaced by Ben Smith, who did not warm up before the game. The Bruins won 2-0 to take a 2-1 series lead.
"Marian Hossa ... I admire the way he plays, he's a very good player, he's got a Stanley Cup on his résumé, but he's not the guy with the highest pain threshold in the NHL," Amonte said Monday night on Comcast SportsNet. "If you look back to his stats and you look throughout his career, he usually plays about 60 games, takes about 20 or 30 off every year just to make sure he's fresh coming into the postseason. He's not a guy that will play through a lot of injuries."
In actuality, Hossa has played at least 78 games in eight of his 14 NHL seasons. Injuries kept him out of eight games during this lockout-shortened regular season. He also suffered a head injury in the playoffs last season and missed the final three games of the Blackhawks' season.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Wednesday that Amonte is entitled to his opinion, but his teammates have never doubted Hossa's toughness.
"There's no question in our locker room that guys are laying it on the line for each other and they have been throughout the entire season and the playoffs," Toews said. "Especially this time of year, guys are playing through tons of stuff. There's no question in our locker room that if Hoss could go and he could be effective for us, that he would have. If people want to criticize from the outside, that's up to them. But there's no doubt in our mind that Hoss is going to do everything in his power to get back in and help our team."
Forward Jamal Mayers, who took Hossa's place in the morning skate Wednesday, also stood up for him.
"It's easy for guys on the outside to voice their opinion; they have no idea what's going on," Mayers said. "It's unfortunate in the sense that the body of work Marian has shown and played through, there's no question guys support him 100 percent. And if he can play, he'll play. Shouldn't even be a story. When he's ready to play, he's shown he'll play. Obviously since I've been here he's been our best player. Certainly we miss him, need him back in."