Longer offseason beneficial for Hossa
CHICAGO -- What has Marian Hossa been doing this summer?
Plenty of relaxing, to be sure -- like most players in the off-season -- but the Chicago Blackhawks star forward has also done a little bit of math in his downtime.
More specifically, Hossa has figured out just how many games he's played in the past three seasons -- which included back-to-back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final with three different teams, participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics plus this past season's marathon seven-game loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs.
"The one player that I've talked a couple times to (this summer) was Marian Hossa, and he just talked about (how) he really needed this break to let his body recuperate," said Blackhawks Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman, who participated in Monday's charity Blackhawks Alumni Golf Outing at Medinah Country Club. "He's played so much hockey over the past three or four years, with all those long runs in the playoffs. I think he figured out that he's played almost an additional 100 games than most guys have played."
Hossa has also battled some significant injuries in both seasons since joining the Hawks as a free agent in 2009. He missed the first quarter of that season recovering from a summer shoulder surgery and spent the rest of the regular season and playoffs trying to regain his form before injuring his knee in the Stanley Cup Final.
Last season, on the heels of winning his first Cup, Hossa started off red hot in Chicago's effort to defend the title before two more injuries again kept him off the ice for sizeable stretches -- another shoulder injury which was followed by a knee sprain that happened during a collision in practice.
Prior to coming to Chicago, Hossa played one season with the Detroit Red Wings and scored 40 goals and 71 points in 74 games. In his two seasons with Chicago, Hossa has scored 24 goals in 57 games in 2009-10 and 25 goals in 65 games last season.
His playoff production has also lagged in the three seasons since he starred in 2008 for the Pittsburgh Penguins with 12 goals and 26 points in 20 postseason games.
Hossa was bitterly disappointed losing in overtime of Game 7 against the Canucks last season, but his health has evidently benefited from the longer off-season.
"He's played almost four seasons over the past three years," Bowman said. "He's really excited to come back stronger than ever. It's a double-edged sword. You don't ever want to have a long summer like we've had, but the guys are going to be more capable to get going right away than maybe they were in the past."
Kane's wrist still on track: Bowman said star forward Patrick Kane is making good progress in his recovery from a July surgery to repair a scaphoid fracture in his left wrist.
Kane isn't able to do on-ice work, but is doing a cardiovascular training regimen. He'll have the wrist re-examined as the start of training camp nears, but for now he remains on par to particpate in camp.
"He's doing great," Bowman said. "He's right on schedule. I don't expect any difficulties. I think we'll have him checked once we get closer to the actual start of camp, but so far it's routine and no problems expected. He's doing a lot of cardio-type stuff, so he's staying in shape and he's excited."
Kane isn't sure exactly when the injury occured, but said his off-season weight training routine might've led to the need for surgery.
Not only did Bolland and Carcillo face each other in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, but it turns out the two have a bit of history chirping at each other from their days in junior hockey.
"I already knew (about him)," Bolland said, when asked what it was like facing him in the Cup Final in 2010. "I played against him in junior and we'd always go at it. I was in London and he was in Sarnia. That was actually pretty fun, but it's great to see him on our team now and it's going to be a great thing. He'll be a great teammate."
Bolland expects Carcillo to bring more than a quick wit and flying fists, however.
"It's great to see," Bolland said of Carcillo's recent verbal jabs at the Canucks during his introductory press conference. "I love it. He's going to be great for us with his grit and his speed getting down there on the forecheck, and he can hit and fight. He's going to be a great player for us, a great acquisition. I think he's going to help us down the road to another Stanley Cup."
New Hawks already fitting in: After last summer's massive roster turnover following the 2010 Stanley Cup win, Chicago struggled to find chemistry between all the new and old faces in the locker room.
The Hawks have again changed faces in their room this off-season, adding grit in the likes of Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers, Sean O'Donnell and Carcillo. This time, however, Bowman hopes it won't take as long for the playing styles and personalities to mesh.
"I've talked to a lot of our players and I think the group is hopefully going to gel quicker than we did last year," Bowman said. "It's been documented that we had some obstacles that way, in terms of not really being able to come together as quick as (we)wanted."
Making Bowman feel that might not be as big of an issue is the way his team has already started gelling at the Blackhawks' annual fan convention in July.
"Some of the new players have already formed some good bonds just over the summer in terms of the convention -- and a few of our existing players said they really like the personality of these guys like Jamal and Montador and Sean O'Donnell and Carcillo," Bowman said. "So, it's a nice mixture of guys added to the ones who've been here. I think it's going to give us a little bit more of a bounce in our group and excitement."
Chicago is Bolly's kind of town: Bolland is the lone Blackhawks player to spend almost the entire off-season living and training in the Windy City.
"I just love Chicago," he said. "I've sort of made Chicago my home and I think just being around everything after the Stanley Cup win, everybody's welcomed me. I think I only went back home for a week this past summer and I've been in Chicago the whole summer. When I went back home for a week, my friends and family were asking, 'Why don't you come back home?' I just said, 'It's because I love Chicago so much.' I love it here and hopefully I'll never leave."