Marian Hossa: My head is clear
Hossa was hit illegally in the head by the Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres in Game 3 of the Blackhawks' first-round playoff series on April 17, 2011. Hossa was taken off the ice on a stretcher and didn't play the rest of the season. Torres was originally suspended 25 games and had it reduced to 21 games after an appeal.
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"You can't just be playing careful hockey," Hossa said after Monday's practice at Johnny's IceHouse West. "I just want to be myself. Right now, I feel like that's where I am."
Hossa was cleared to play in December and said he hasn't felt any lingering effects of last year's injury. He went through his second official practice on Monday and said he continued to feel good.
"Right now when I step on the ice, my head is clear," Hossa said. "That's the main thing for me. I wasn't like that before when I was still here in early November."
One major stepping stone for Hossa was recently taking his first big hit and being able to skate away from it.
"Three days ago, (Brandon) Bollig hit me pretty hard by accident, so that was a good test," Hossa said. "I know I passed it."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has liked the look of Hossa, too. Quenneville said Hossa was in great shape and could again be highly depended on as he was in the past.
"He's probably never been in this good of shape in his life," Quenneville said. "He's fine. He's ready to go. He's ready to play. We anticipate using him in all situations. We know the importance he brings to our team, what he can do for our team."
Hossa has registered 50-plus points in the past 12 seasons. His 77-point total last season for the Blackhawks was the most he had since having 100 points for the then-Atlanta Thrashers in the 2006-07 season.