Marian Hossa is ready to prove that he's the same player he was before Raffi Torres ended his season. Can Chicago expect the same player?
The Chicago Blackhawks got a healthy season from forward Marian Hossa in his third season with the team. Now, after a devastating end to last season, the Blackhawks have to face what could be a very real possibility.
The 'Hawks may well have gotten the best out of Hossa.
Hossa's season was ended in the playoffs back in April by a crushing ht by Phoenix bad boy Raffi Torres. Up until the fateful Game 3 of Chicago's first-round series with the Coyotes, Hossa had enjoyed an All-Star-caliber 2011-12.
In arguably his finest campaign since 2007-08, and without question his healthiest, Hossa played in 81 games. His 29 goals and 48 assists for 77 points put him ahead of all Blackhawks scorers. I proclaimed him Chicago's MVP of the first half of 2011-12 and could easily have made a case for him for the entire regular season.
Now, thanks to Torres, we're left with as much doubt as in Hossa's first two injury-plagued seasons with the 'Hawks.
After signing a 12-year, $63 million contract in the summer of 2009, Hossa missed 42 games over the next two seasons. We saw flashes of the dominating player that he had been in his 20s. However, it remains to be seen whether Hossa can deliver last year's production, if and when hockey resumes.
On the positive side, Hossa has had ample time to recover from the injuries sustained as a result of the Torres hit. He was cleared for action in mid-November and has been working out in Chicago. If the NHL gets its collective act together, Hossa will be ready to take to the ice.
In a few weeks, Hossa will turn 34. It certainly shouldn't be a surprise if his numbers begin to drop. At this point, he is proclaiming himself to be 100 percent. The real proof will only come when he returns to game action.
On the positive side, Hossa has had ample time to recover without the pressure of an impending season. He hasn't suffered any setbacks in his health that we know of.
Still, it is impossible to predict with any confidence what the Blackhawks will get from the veteran until Hossa once again dons the Indian head sweater.