NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With ..." runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa never wanted to have back surgery this past summer, and he feels fortunate that he didn't have to. The last thing Hossa wanted to do was spend his offseason (especially one after winning the Stanley Cup) rehabbing from what could have been an invasive operation to repair nerve problems that were affecting his right leg and foot.
Hossa and the Blackhawks instead decided rest was his best option, but things looked dicey for him during training camp. Hossa didn't play in any of Chicago's six preseason games and missed most of the final week before the regular season began because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.
The injury threw off Hossa's timing and brought his health into further question.
HAWKS HONORED AT WHITE HOUSE
President Barack Obama is presented with a personalized jersy from Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews during a celebration of the 2013 Stanley Cup champions at the White House.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Would he be able to regain his All-Star form? Would the Blackhawks be in trouble, especially with eight seasons left on Hossa's 12-year, $63.3 million contract? Would the fact that he had to pull himself out of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final be a sign of things to come for Hossa?
So far, the answers to those questions are yes, no and no. Hossa is healthy, happy, and productive of late.
Hossa, who has not missed a game this season, had six points through the first 11 games of the season, but has matched that production in the past four games with two goals and has four assists. On Monday, Hossa spoke to NHL.com prior to being honored by President Barack Obama at the White House about his health, the issues he faced and how he feels now.
Here are Five Questions With … Marian Hossa:
Were you worried about the future, your career, when you sustained your back injury in the playoffs last season?
"A little bit yeah, because I heard when it's a back injury it can go downhill quickly. When you start having problems with the back you can have problems over and over. So you get some things in your mind, but I always tried to look at it in a positive way and so far it has improved so much, so I'm happy about it."
What goes through your mind? You mentioned you start to think about things, like what?
"What if this, what if that. What if I can't play at the level I'm used to? Those types of questions are in your head and you start to think about those, but I'm glad with the way it is now."
What clicked for you that you knew you weren't going to have to worry about those things, that those questions were not going to be concerns for you?
"Well, after we won the Cup, we talked about if I should go to surgery or not. To me, surgery is always the last option. When I can't even move, then we'll have to do it. If I am still OK but I know I can do a couple of shots and that's going to improve it, then why do the surgery? Those shots, especially in training camp and the first month, helped extremely well. Right now I'm playing, and I feel pretty good."
Can you rank pulling yourself out of a Stanley Cup Final game with anything other difficult things you've had to do in your career?
"Oh yeah, that was terrible. But, it was at the point where I know I would be useless on the ice. I couldn't do anything with my leg and I would just be useless. That was a tough thing to do, especially at the time. If somebody healthy could jump in I know at the time that was a better decision. A couple days later, I tried to help the team."
The way you've been playing the past five, six, seven games, do you feel like you're back to normal now?
"Right now? Yes, especially for the past four or five games. I feel like the timing has finally come. I knew it wouldn't be easy because I had a short summer, a short recovery, especially with my bad back. Then I come to training camp and miss another week in training camp. There was so much. I would have liked to train in the summer, but I didn't have the time for it. You know you're going to miss time and it's going to take you some games to get to feeling normal. Right now I feel much, much better."