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Puck Daddy

Marian Hossa back in Blackhawks practice, to the delight of Canucks fans

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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Marian Hossa was back in full practice with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, less than 48 hours after he was helped from the ice to the dressing room following a blow to the head.

Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune writes that "Hossa passed some concussion tests today and will undergo more tomorrow to determine if he'll play" on Friday night vs. the San Jose Sharks.

This is great news for Chicago, which is seeking to set an NHL record on Friday for longest points streak to start the season, and terrible news for anyone that cherishes rational discourse.

The Jannik Hansen hit on Hossa, during the Chicago Blackhawks’ win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, produced its share of speculative nonsense. For example, that Hossa was negligent and skated into the hit. Also, that if Hossa wasn’t so “soft”, he wouldn’t have been forced to leave the game.

Hansen was given a one-game suspension for the “careless” play, a decision that frustrated many Canucks loyalists and angered GM Mike Gillis.

Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun disagreed with supplemental discipline as well:

If the National Hockey League punishes Hansen for an injury Hossa incurred on a hit so slight, someone without pre-existing concussion issues likely would have shrugged it off -- or turned around and cuffed the other guy in annoyance, no more than that -- then a major rewrite of the rules of the game is in order.

If incidental head contact is cause for suspension, how is it possible for the league to continue to condone, even tacitly encourage, fighting, wherein two players punch each other repeatedly in the head, with nothing in mind other than intent to injure, and are given five minutes each, and remain in the game?

… The department of player safety didn’t quite empty a fire extinguisher to put out a burning match -- one game for Hansen is like saying “Well, we had to do something” -- though it continues to respond to actual purposeful head blows with a nudge and a wink. But did Hansen even deserve a slap on the wrist? Possibly. No more than that.

Strong stuff, and not entirely inaccurate in its portrayal of the NHL’s paradox between player safety and sanctioned violence. Which is exactly why “suspending to the injury” is flimsy philosophy; how many games should Joe Thornton have received for setting a pick on David Perron that kept him out over a year?

Let’s face it: Hansen’s hit doesn’t get noticed if Hossa doesn’t leave the game. It doesn’t mean it’s not a reckless play, because it was; but it’s not ending up on Brendan Shanahan’s iPad without the injury.

Does Hossa coming back to practice somehow undermine the suspension? Of course not. It’s still a flagrant foul whether he’s concussed or not. He was injured enough to leave a game against an arch rival in which he had already scored two goals – he wasn’t embellishing.

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