For Marian Hossa, it’s a case of one test down and one to go.
Hossa took a hit from teammate Brandon Bollig in practice the other day that let him know he was OK in his rehab from the concussion suffered on that devastating hit by Phoenix’s Raffi Torres in Game 3 of the Blackhawks’ first-round playoff series last spring.
The next test will come Saturday, when the Hawks open the season at Los Angeles against the physical Kings and the hitting goes to another level.
“Three days ago Bollig hit me pretty hard by accident, so that was a good test and I know I passed it, I think,” Hossa said. “Right now when I step on the ice my head is clear, and that’s the main thing for me.
“I wasn’t like that before when I was here in November. Even so, I wanted to make sure it went away. Right now I’m happy with where I am.”
Hossa said he plans to play as he always has done in the past.
“You can’t be playing careful hockey,” Hossa said. “I just want to be myself and right now I feel that’s where I am. I’m behind the guys who played in Europe. It’s going to take a little bit to get going and hopefully it won’t take too long.”
Hossa said he only has heard from Torres that one time after the hit back in April. “It’s been a long time and I forgot (what he said),” Hossa said. “It was (a) pretty short (conversation).”
Coach Joel Quenneville has been talking to and watching Hossa in practice for signs that he is OK after last April’s hit.
“I talked to him about it and certainly you watch that type of thing, that contact … and maybe we’ll get a little bit more of a taste for it on Wednesday (in the simulated game),” Quenneville said.
“We feel that the bumping, we’ll have some bumping every day. At the same time, I’m sure after the first game we play in L.A. everybody will say, ‘Oh, my God,’ while getting used to the real bumps.
“I think they’re getting tested. You talk to them and they feel good and say they’re ready to go.”
After months on the mend, Hossa finally was cleared to play in December.
“Basically it took some time to get slowly better, but after that I knew it would get to the point where I would get comfortable,” Hossa said. “I feel like myself now. Our trainers did excellent jobs with me for six weeks over time. I had all the services I needed and all the doctors from the team.”
The Hawks are going to need a strong start from Hossa.
“I feel fresh,” he said. “I think the timing and all those types of things will be the factor because we haven’t played for so long.
“Conditionally, I believe I’m good. But it’s different between practice condition and game condition. Hopefully I will be there soon.”
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