While certainly it was good just to see the Hawks star winger on his feet since leaving the United Center ice on a stretcher this past April, the nagging, persistent questions came to surface almost immediately. What is his status? Will he be healthy enough to play in the fall? Are there any lingering symptoms?
“The way I feel right now, I feel I will be ready for (training) camp. No (symptoms) right now.” (Source: NHL.com)
Music to our ears.
After contributing 77 points to the Blackhawks lineup last season, there were doubts about whether or not Hossa would be capable of playing next season. With Hossa, the Hawks were able to achieve fourth overall in offensive output last season (tied with the Vancouver Canucks), but there were concerns about the team’s offensive proficiency without No. 81.
These concerns are completely valid. Along with leading his team in points last season, Hossa was a plus-18 and trailed only Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in average ice time amongst forwards. Coach Joel Quenneville sees fit to play Hossa in just about every situation, and rightfully so, as Hossa has developed into one of the most reliable two-way players in the NHL. His offensive production compounded with his defensive responsibility is an increasingly valuable asset for a team which can be frustratingly inconsistent, especially in its own end.
Whether or not Hossa will return next season at 100 percent remains to be seen, but he’s an essential puzzle piece to a very young and eclectic assortment of players. He’s a unique veteran presence in the locker room, and with the exceptionally limited moves the Hawks have made this offseason, Hawks fans must hope that No. 81 can return to form next season.