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Toews 'progressing,' status remains day-to-day

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews won't be on the plane with the Chicago Blackhawks when they fly to Ottawa on Thursday, but coach Joel Quenneville left open a glimmer of hope for those tracking the injured star's health status.

Asked if Toews might be able to join the Hawks at some point after Friday's game in Ottawa -- the first of a three-game road trip -- Quenneville answered: "Hope so, but we'll see."

Toews has been out for five straight games with an upper-body injury that's believed to be a concussion, including Wednesday night's 5-4 home win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Considering how long Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has been sidelined by concussion-like symptoms, people in Chicago are beginning to worry that Toews' ailment might be more serious than it sounds.

However, the Hawks have listed Toews as "day-to-day" ever since the injury first came to light and Quenneville is sticking by that assessment. He said Toews is "progressing," and even mentioned the star captain might get back on the ice for individual skating work sometime in the near future.

"I think we mentioned [on Wednesday], you're not sure exactly [how] to give a timeline of where he's going to be," Quenneville said after a brief practice at the United Center on Thursday. "But we said day-to-day and we're still on that timeline. So, hopefully it's sooner. I think that he's progressing, so I think it's going to be pretty soon here we'll get him on the ice."

Does he think Toews will require any additional medical testing to diagnose the situation?

"No," Quenneville said. "I think he's getting the proper attention and he's working with our trainers and doing his routine and he's progressing."

Also showing progress with an upper-body injury believd to be a concussion is defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson -- who will miss a fourth straight game against Ottawa and has sat out 10 of the last 11 contests.

Hjalmarsson will make the trip to Ottawa with the team and might be able to return to action either Sunday in Detroit or Tuesday in St. Louis. Hjalmarsson thought he might be ready to return against the Dallas Stars last week, but almost immediately felt the symptoms that kept him sidelined for the previous seven games.

"Hammer felt really good today, so he's going to come on the trip," Quenneville said. "He's out for tomorrow, but we hope that he'll be playing [soon]."

Other than Toews, defenseman Steve Montador and forward Viktor Stalberg missed Thursday's practice. Montador also won't make the trip and continues to be sidelined with what's believed to be a concussion that's held him out for 11 straight games, but Stalberg is good enough to keep playing despite taking a hard shoulder-first check into the end boards in the second period on Wednesday night and gingerly skating to the bench.

The speedy Swedish forward played the third period and Quenneville said Thursday's day off was just a "maintenance day."
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