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Blackhawks delighted to welcome Hossa back

by Phil Coffey
Remember Marian Hossa?

Sure you do; big fella with quite the scoring touch. Signed a big deal with the Blackhawks during the summer.
Well, Hossa is on track to refresh everyone's memory.

Sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery July 24, Hossa was back on the ice at practice with the Hawks on Wednesday and remains on track for a return in late November.

"I'm still looking for three to four weeks," Hossa told Tim Sassone of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. "I think it's on schedule. The schedule was, I think, around Nov. 25, so hopefully by the time around that date it's going to feel 100 percent."

Hossa said the strength in his shoulder and arm are not back to normal yet.

"I just wanted to feel how the timing is and how the skating is," Hossa said. "It was kind of a little test for me and for the first time, it wasn't too bad. I thought it was going to be worse. Obviously, I don't have as much strength in the arm as I would like, so I have three to four weeks to work on that."

Overall, coach Joel Quenneville was happy to see one of his prized players back on the ice rather than being on ice.

"I thought he did very good," Quenneville said. "Usually when you get a guy who hasn't skated, or has been basically skating on his own, injected into a practice it usually slows down drills. I think he sped things up today.

"He's got that speed and presence, and the quality and the skill he has. He did a nice job and handled a lot of different drills. It was a good first practice and it helped us."

Well Said I  -- "Sorry about the cliché, but you just try to give your guys a chance to win. I wouldn't have used a cliché if it wasn't true." -- Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson

Wanted: an identity -- You might think wearing a uniform would give players an identity. But that hasn't been the case in Anaheim, where the Ducks are a disappointing 3-6-1 after 10 games.

"When you're in the situation we're in, you have to have a starting point," coach Randy Carlyle said. "Our starting point is the amount of workload, and the acceptance of nothing less than 110 percent in practice. We haven't created an identity with our hockey club and we're desperate to create one."

You can bet Carlyle isn't interested in becoming "the team that misses Chris Pronger."

Count your blessings  -- It's hard to disagree with this kind of perspective from Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Dave King, a world traveler during his career.

"I see the sun every morning in Phoenix, and that's a nice thing," King told reporters. "You have to remember, I've seen Siberia."

Room to score -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice is another NHL coach unhappy with his team's start, a 2-6-3 mark through 11 games. Maurice is experimenting by moving center Eric Staal to the point of the power play along with Joni Pitkanen and using a forward line of Rod Brind'Amour, Sergei Samsonov and Ray Whitney.

"With Staal on the back end, it's a little more of a threat," Maurice told reporters. "When we play Washington or we play Atlanta, there are a couple of guys you don't want shooting the puck. When teams come to play us they say, 'That's fine, that's fine, we'll give you that but we're not going to give you anything from Eric Staal off the half-wall or down low.'

"So we move him out there, he's harder to cover. And we give him a little more room to move out there, as well. Maybe generate some offense by the goalie having to stop the first shot and maybe getting some rebounds."

One tough dude -- The ability of hockey players to deal with pain is legendary and now you can add San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle to the list of guys who can play with pain.

On Wednesday, Boyle told David Pollak of the Contra Costa Times that he has been playing with a broken thumb all season. Boyle finally came clean after he'd healed up.

"I don't want to use it as an excuse, so I didn't want to say anything, but it is what it is. I've been playing with a broken thumb for a month and a half," Boyle said. "I'm looking forward to being healthy again, and I'm definitely feeling better than I have in about a month."

Boyle said the injury occurred during a training-camp scrimmage, and the injury has compromised his game, to a degree.

"It's been tough," Boyle said. "My execution has been off a little bit, my shot hasn't been as good. You make certain decisions differently because you're in pain."

He said he thought he's "done OK with what I've gone through, but now that I'm healthy, hopefully I can execute a little bit better because I think it's been a little bit off. It's 99 percent back."

Making the grade  -- The chore of house hunting is just great in the eyes of Thrashers rookie Evander Kane, because it means he'll be staying in the NHL.

Kane, Atlanta's top pick in the '09 Entry Draft, the fourth selection of the first round, got the word he can leave his hotel for more permanent digs.

"Evander has stepped in as an 18-year old and made a significant contribution to our club," Thrashers GM Don Waddell said. "He's earned the opportunity to stay in Atlanta for the foreseeable future and we look forward to his continued maturation as he grows along with the young core of players on our team."

Well Said II  -- "You get a lot more confident when you work hard. It's funny. Your confidence goes when your feet aren't moving and you're not hitting anybody.

"It's the simple, grinding things that we're just not willing to do, and it starts with our best guys, in back-checking and stopping and hitting and not getting beat off walls. Doing it once doesn't make you a good guy. You have to do it every shift." -- Carolina's Paul Maurice on the secret to success

No sympathy for Thrashers -- Sure, losing Ilya Kovalchuk to injury hurts the Atlanta Thrashers in a big way. But coach John Anderson doesn't want anyone -- most importantly his players -- feeling sorry about the situation.

"I read [Miami Heat President] Pat Riley's book," Anderson told reporters. "And he talks about thunderbolts, things you don't expect to happen.

He said the worst thing about it is accepting sympathy. As soon as you think it's OK to lose, then you've lost that game. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to pick ourselves up and say, 'You know what, we are going to be better.'

And that's what I expect of our team. Not just say, 'OK, now we have an excuse,' because that is BS. I won't accept that and I hope the players won't accept that.

"It's not OK to say, 'Poor us.' It's not about that. Because you know what, all those other teams don't give a rat's [behind] about us. They are happy this happened. Only us, we are the only ones who care. If we don't care and we say it's OK, then we've lost every game until he comes back."

Anderson has gotten the point across.

"Everybody knows what Kovy means to the team," goalie Johan Hedberg said. "Sometimes with Kovy, he might score three goals on his own. We have to realize now we'll have to win the game 2-1 or 1-0. ... We must think defense first and go from there."

Tallinder: Big future for Myers -- Tyler Myers is a big kid, standing 6-foot-8 and he has a big future according to defensive partner Henrik Tallinder.

Myers got the word Thursday that he would be staying with the Sabres rather than returning to the junior ranks. Tallinder isn't surprised at all.

"He should play here," Tallinder told the Buffalo News. "I'm really amazed with his poise with the puck. It's unbelievable for his age, 19. You don't see veteran guys have that."

Tallinder then upped the ante, comparing Myers to the NHL's tallest player, Boston's 6-9 Zdeno Chara.

"Not even close. I still don't think Chara has the same movements as this kid has," Tallinder said. "It's scary how good he's going to be."

Wild times -- The road has not been kind so far to the Minnesota Wild this season. Minnesota is 0-8-0 out of the gate on the road this season, and combining that with a 3-1-0 mark at home gives the Wild an un-Wild-like 3-9-0 record.

Coach Todd Richards is remaining positive. Earlier in the week, he kept his players off the ice following a road loss in Chicago and they had a meeting and video session, not that the video was terribly pretty, but it beats a bag skate.

"The mood in the meeting wasn't very good, but that's where we're at," Richards told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "There are a lot of areas that need improvement.

"Things have to change. For the most part, the effort is there. But we need more commitment to certain things we want to accomplish as a team, and there has to be more commitment from each individual to bring more. My job is to maximize potential, but I can only do so much. It comes down to the players."

"It's all about individuals coming together, and everyone has to do the best they can," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "There are things we can do a lot better. I know we can do better; everyone knows we can. It's just about doing it, and I'm sure we will."

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