Marian Hossa will play for the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday at United Center against the San Jose Sharks (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) after passing all the medical protocols for head injuries following the team's morning skate.
Hossa, who left the game Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks 1:10 into the third period after taking a hard blow to the back of the head from Canucks forward Jannik Hansen, went through his second straight day of on-ice work and said he's ready to play.
"I feel good," Hossa said. "Otherwise, if I had a little doubt, I wouldn't go and play. I wouldn't practice. Everything is clear. Like I said, I was a little shaky right after the hit, the punch in the head, but the next day was better and after a day off it was much better [on Thursday] for practice. Then I felt good this morning."
It was a big relief for the Blackhawks (13-0-3) to hear that from Hossa. They're vying to set a new NHL mark for consecutive games without a regulation loss to start a season; they're currently tied at 16 with the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks. The most important thing is just keeping Hossa healthy for the long run, and hearing the star forward say he felt good was key for getting back on the ice so quickly.
"For sure, that's the first step," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's got to make sure that he's comfortable and we're comfortable with him playing. We always look at the history and there's hurdles and tests you've got to make sure you face and pass. Organizationally, he's ready to go and he's cleared."
Hossa, one of Chicago's top stars, is off to a great start, with eight goals and six assists while playing right wing on the top line next to captain Jonathan Toews. That includes a pair of goals against Vancouver on Tuesday prior to Hansen's hit. Hansen was penalized for roughing in the game and then on Wednesday received a one-game suspension from the NHL.
Seeing Hossa lay on the ice Tuesday was similar to what happened in Game 3 of the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he was injured on an illegal hit by the Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres.
That hit resulted in Hossa being taken off the ice on a stretcher. On Tuesday, Hossa was able to skate off the ice on his own power, but that didn't make it seem any less scary. It could lead people to wonder if Hossa's concentration will be affected when he gets back on the ice Friday, worried about another shot to the head.
"Obviously, when you get another hit in the head and you lay on the ice, you kind of go through things and what happened [before]," Hossa said. "I just want to make sure everything is clear in my head. Otherwise, I wouldn't play if I had a little doubt in my head."
Hossa also was asked if Hansen's hit gave him a concussion of any degree.
"No," Hossa said. "Most likely when he punched me in the head, I felt shaky at first [for] one hour, but [afterward] it became better and [Thursday] I felt better. They asked me if I'm sure I'm ready to go and I believe my instinct and they believe me. I went through it before, so I know myself right now. I feel good. Otherwise I wouldn't be playing."