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Bolland understands Toews' situation

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews has a few Chicago Blackhawks teammates who probably know what he's feeling right about now, but none more so than center Dave Bolland.

Toews, Chicago's captain and top center, is out with an upper-body injury, widely believed to be a concussion, and is slated to miss his 13th straight game Sunday night when the Hawks play host to the Washington Capitals at United Center (7 p.m., NBCSN).

Bolland, who missed the final 14 games of the 2011-12 regular season plus the first three Stanley Cup Playoff games of a first-round series against Vancouver with a concussion, said he understands why the Hawks superstar is taking a cautious approach to returning.

"It's one of those things you've got to take your time with," Bolland said. "You come back too early, you could (mess) yourself (up). I think taking your time just to be sure you're OK and ready to come back is the main thing for [Toews]. He needs to be sure he's healthy and be sure that he doesn't have a relapse with it. It's a tough go, but I think he's doing a great job with it. Hopefully, he does come back soon, but we'll see what happens."

Toews may have already had a relapse of sorts.

After skating for four straight days to start last week, Toews has only skated once on his own since, and even that session was brief. On Saturday, he again didn't skate and didn't do off-ice physical conditioning work either.

Earlier, Toews had said he hoped to return for a game this past Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, but this apparent setback -- which has him listed as day-to-day -- has changed that timetable.

Either way, Bolland said placing Toews' long-term health first is of the utmost importance.

"The pull is to come back early, but you don't want to come back too early," said Bolland, who used the example of Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson returning from what's believed to have been a similar injury on Feb. 23 and missing the next six games. "I think you started to see with Hjalmarsson, you come back too early and think you're ready ... you can (mess) yourself up. Everybody wants to come back early and help out the team. I wish I could've come back one game earlier last year against Vancouver, but I think taking that one extra game helped me make sure I was ready for the extra games in this season. It's a tough go for guys, but it's something you've got to go through."

Bolland's concussion battle began around this same time of the season last year, after a hit from former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina knocked the Hawks' third-line center out of the lineup.

Bolland said that seeing Toews out right now has given him memories of his own ordeal.

"It's one of those things that you do reminisce [about]," Bolland said. "I can still remember those feelings of what he's going through and what I went through. It's a tough time."
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