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Hossa to return to Blackhawks on Thursday

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks didn't pull off a trade before the NHL deadline expired at 3 p.m. Wednesday, but they will get at least one star forward added to their lineup.

Marian Hossa will suit up against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night at United Center after missing six games with an upper-body injury believed to be shoulder-related.

"He's going to play," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Wednesday morning's practice. "We're looking forward to that. He means a lot. He enhances your team game, he's useful in special-teams situations, but he's that player you like the way he plays all areas of the ice, and that line's been very good with him on that line. I'm sure they're happy to have him back as well."

Marian Hossa
Marian Hossa
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 23
SOG: 87 | +/-: 11
Hossa, who has 13 goals and 10 assists in 28 games, plays right wing on Chicago's top line with captain Jonathan Toews at center and rapidly improving rookie Brandon Saad as the left wing. That line, in particular, has been scorching hot of late, with regular fourth-liner Michael Frolik filling in for Hossa.

"I felt good today, so there's no reason to wait longer," Hossa said.

Forward Patrick Sharp does have reason to wait longer.

Sharp has missed 11 games with a similar upper-body injury and needs a little more time before getting back into a game. He's not happy sitting out this long but understands the importance of his health as the Blackhawks head down the final stretch of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's frustrating knowing I'm that close to getting in the game and there's some limitations with it, so we'll play it day-to-day," Sharp said. "It's just like any other injury that [reporters] have covered, especially with the player, the doctors, the trainers, the coaches -- everybody gets involved. Trust me, it [stinks] sitting here watching games. I was to be out there and as soon as I'm allowed to I'll be playing."

Chicago had a recent addition to the lineup at Wednesday's practice: 6-foot-5 veteran center Michal Handzus worked out with his new team for the first time since being traded by the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Handzus, who played eight games for the Blackhawks in 2006-07, said he is excited to be back in the Windy City under a starkly different scenario.

Since he last played for Chicago, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and are perennial contenders led by a core of talented stars, including Toews and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks also play in front of a lot more people than when Handzus last wore a Chicago uniform.

"It's been a long time and it was different circumstances when I was here last time," Handzus said. "It's a lot more fun to be back. It's totally different [now]. I remember [before] there were only 10,000 people in the stands. Obviously, I've played against the Hawks the past six years, so I know the building is great. It's full and there's a lot of excitement in the building. It's totally different."

Handzus spent some time at right wing and centering the fourth line during practice, alternating spots with center Marcus Kruger.

There had been some concern about second-line center Dave Bolland's status after he took a slap shot from Shea Weber off his skate in Monday's 3-2 shootout win against the Nashville Predators, but he practiced and looked fine.

That means Handzus is likely to play somewhere on the fourth line.

"It's up to the coaches," Handzus said. "I'll play whenever and do whatever I can to help."

Kane missed the practice with an illness, but Quenneville said he's likely to play against the Blues.

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