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Chicago Blackhawks Should Let Marian Hossa Rest

By Colin Likas
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As many of you are likely aware (and as the rest of you are learning reading this), Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa will miss tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues due to a lower-body injury. He also missed Monday’s tilt against the Los Angeles Kings after suffering the injury Saturday against Minnesota. It hasn’t been clarified what exactly the injury is (we shouldn’t expect to know any time soon), but we can all be thankful it isn’t a concussion.

Sure, a lower-body injury could also be bad, but considering Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told the media Monday he was hopeful Hossa could suit up Wednesday, the injury is not one of a serious nature. That’s especially good news for the 36-year-old, his team and that team’s fans.

While we all miss watching Hossa play and his teammates surely miss having his talented and knowledgeable presence on the ice, this setback for Hossa shouldn’t be considered a major issue. In fact, I think the Blackhawks should consider letting Hossa have a little more time off, even if the injury is relatively minor. There are multiple reasons I think this is a fair course of action.

First, Hossa wasn’t exactly off to the hottest of starts. Prior to suffering the injury, Hossa had just a goal and three assists to go along with what is currently a team-worst minus-4 rating (Marcus Kruger holds the same rating) in 11 games. Hossa also has the second-most shots on the team with 32 (trailing only Patrick Kane‘s 42) despite being a game short of some of his teammates. So, no, Hossa’s ability to play hockey at the highest level didn’t fall off a cliff over night. But it sure wouldn’t hurt to give the guy a break.

Yes, the Blackhawks are hardly into this regular season, but consider what Hossa and other returning Blackhawks have gone through of late. The NHL offseason is a very short one, and no matter how well-conditioned Hossa is, it’s tough to jump back into games less than four months after you stopped playing them. Hossa has done that three, and almost four, times in the last six seasons. The fact he hasn’t just decided to hang up the skates already is a testament to the kind of player he is, and it shows he has a belief that he can still skate circles around much of the league (he can).

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Still, it wouldn’t hurt to let those nagging injuries rest and give Hossa a breather every now and again. The Blackhawks will need Hossa far more later in the season than they do at this very moment, and shoving him onto the ice for as close to 82 regular-season games as possible is not a solid strategy. Hossa isn’t an individual who is going to gain rust as a result of sitting out. He’s played in nearly 1,400 NHL games — playoffs included — as well as countless international events. The guy oozes hockey, and he’s going to be just as great after a short respite as he was before it.

On top of this, Hossa’s absence gives the various youngsters the Blackhawks have called up a chance to impress Coach Q and Co. while potentially improving the team. Hossa’s spot is not in danger of being given to someone else, but the Blackhawks need to find out one way or another what all they have in the minors, and how those players adjust to big-league play. While there’s some experience missing when Hossa is out and youth comes in, the youth is in turn gaining experience that will be useful in future seasons, or even later this season. Hossa and others aren’t going to play forever, even if it occasionally feels like they could.

Two opportunities have risen with Hossa healing from his latest injury: A chance to give Hossa a rest during a non-critical stretch of the season, and a chance to give prospects a look on the big stage. The Blackhawks would be wise to take both of these opportunities by the horns. I’m not saying Hossa needs to be kept on the sideline when he gets back to full strength, but there’s also no need to rush him into action when the situation doesn’t 100 percent call for his presence.

If we didn’t see Hossa play the rest of this week, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. He’ll miss tonight’s game, and his presence shouldn’t be necessary for the Blackhawks to win what should be a pair of cupcakes in New Jersey and Edmonton this weekend. The Blackhawks are then off until next Thursday, so that would offer a very healthy (no pun intended) break for Big Hoss.

I’d tell Hossa to enjoy the breather, however long it lasts, but we all know he probably wants to be back in game action more than almost anything. Someone buy the man a deck of cards or a puppy to keep him occupied.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks Week Ahead A Busy One

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